• July 29th, 2020

    It’s been a wild month. Two weeks ago, the Trump administration finalized its attack on America’s bedrock environmental law—the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Today, SUWA, along with a nationwide coalition of conservation and environmental justice organizations, challenged the administration’s rollback of NEPA regulations in federal court.

    NEPA, often referred to as the “Magna Carta” of environmental law, is our “national charter for the protection of the environment.” It has two primary goals. First, it guarantees that federal agencies such as the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) analyze and disclose the impacts of proposed projects on the environment and public health. Second, it guarantees that the relevant information will be made available to the public so that they can play a role in both the decision-making process and the implementation of that decision.

    The Trump administration’s revised NEPA regulations severely undermine these goals. For example, they:

    • Allow Federal agencies such as the BLM to exempt a broader range of projects from analysis and disclosure;
    • Expedite the decision-making process by establishing presumptive time limits on environmental reviews;
    • Encourage the use of programmatic environmental reviews, which allow agencies to front-load generic, boilerplate analyses and effectively postpone meaningful analyses until the 11th hour, if at all.
    • Limit the range of potential “effects” that must be analyzed and disclosed by the agency prior to approving new projects;
    • Put private interests ahead of public interests by allowing Federal agencies to consider “the goals of the applicant” when crafting alternatives to the proposed project; and
    • Restrict public participation by allowing federal agencies to require that the public post a bond before they can challenge development proposals on public lands.

    In short, the revised NEPA regulations are designed to allow federal agencies such as the BLM to push through more projects, faster, and with less analysis and public scrutiny.

    Make no mistake, Trump’s assault on NEPA strikes at the heart of our work to protect the redrock. If left unchallenged, it will weaken the scientific review process, stifle public input, and open the door to unchecked exploitation of America’s public lands.

    Contact your members of Congress today and tell them to oppose Trump’s attack on this crucial environmental law.

    Importantly, NEPA regulations apply to all federal projects on public lands, including those managed by the BLM, Forest Service, and National Park Service. It is estimated that federal agencies approve more than 110,000 projects each year, including thousands in Utah alone.

    Without an intact NEPA review process it would have been significantly harder for SUWA to successfully challenge more than 300,000 acres of oil and gas leasing, or the two enormous vegetation removal projects proposed for Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

    Beyond its importance to public land protection, NEPA also gives vulnerable populations a chance to voice concerns about development proposals that may harm their communities, including power plants and fossil fuel pipelines. The Trump administration’s rollback of NEPA regulations exploits these marginalized communities, endangers human health, and exacerbates the climate crisis.

    Like so many of Trump’s policies, we are confident that this one will be sent to the trash pile of bad ideas. You can help ensure this by contacting your members of Congress today.

    Please urge your representatives to defend the public process and oppose any weakening of NEPA.

    Thank you!

  • July 22nd, 2020

    Our guest is Leah Thomas, activist, eco-communicator and founder of Intersectional Environmentalist, a new and growing community of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color environmental writers and content creators. Intersectional Environmentalism advocates for the protection of both people and the planet by identifying ways in which injustices happening to marginalized communities and to the earth are interconnected. In this episode, Thomas shares her perspective as a Black environmentalist and discusses her experiences as a person of color on public lands.

    Wild Utah is made possible by the contributing members of SUWA. Our theme music, “What’s Worth?” was written and performed in Moab by Haley Noel Austin. 

    Listen on your favorite app!

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  • July 21st, 2020

    Salt Lake City, Utah (July 21, 2020) – The Bureau of Land Management today announced the appointment of Greg Sheehan as the BLM’s new State Director for Utah. In response, Steve Bloch, legal director for the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, released the following statement:

    “Greg Sheehan is not fit to lead the Bureau of Land Management’s Utah state office. Utah’s Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears National Monuments and redrock wilderness are the crown jewels of the federal public lands in the lower 48 states entrusted to the Bureau. In stark contrast, Sheehan’s resume is littered with the kind of parochial influence that makes him particularly unsuited to manage public lands. He has a history of making decisions at the behest of state and local governments, as well as high dollar hunting groups and energy interests, that promote the heavy-handed destruction of public lands and wildlife.”

    Here is Mr. Sheehan giving a presentation in 2016:

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  • June 29th, 2020

    As you may have heard by now, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) wants to open up more than 114,000 acres of wild lands in Utah—including more than 86,000 acres in southeastern Utah—to oil and gas drilling as part of its upcoming September lease sale.

    If this massive lease sale goes through, oil and gas wells could appear at the doorstep of Canyonlands, Arches, and Capitol Reef National Parks—as well as near Bears Ears National Monument, Labyrinth Canyon, Dead Horse Point State Park, the Green River, and in lands proposed for wilderness designation in America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act.

    Tell the BLM: No oil and gas leasing near Utah’s National Parks!


    The BLM is accepting comments on the lease sale through next Thursday, July 9th. Trump’s BLM needs to hear from you. Tell them:

    • The BLM must put a halt to all new leasing of public lands if there is any chance of avoiding the most severe impacts of a changing climate. Fossil fuels extracted from public lands including oil and gas account for nearly 24 percent of the nation’s annual carbon dioxide emissions.
    • Even without the climate crisis, this lease sale would be unacceptable. The BLM is proposing to blanket southern Utah’s redrock country with oil and gas leases, opening the door to development of some of the nation’s most remarkable public lands, including lands surrounding three of Utah’s “Mighty Five” National Parks.
    • The BLM is promoting wide-scale lease speculation. The world is currently awash in unneeded oil, as evidenced by the BLM recently giving royalty relief to oil and gas operators in this same area because those operators cannot economically develop the leases they already have.

    Click here to tell the BLM what you think about their latest giveaway to the oil and gas industry.

    Thanks to SUWA supporters like you, thousands of messages have already been sent to Utah Governor Gary Herbert, demonstrating the widespread opposition to the Trump administration’s attempt to flood southern Utah with new oil and gas wells.

    The BLM needs to get that message as well. Please take a moment to submit your comments today.

    Thank you for taking action.