• December 15th, 2018

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    Contact: Stephen Bloch, Legal Director, (801)-859-1552 or steve@suwa.org

    Salt Lake City, UT (December 15, 2018) – In response to the announcement of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s departure from President Trump’s cabinet, SUWA legal director Stephen Bloch issued the following statement:

    “Utah’s federal public lands are unquestionably worse off because of Zinke’s corrupt and disastrous tenure as Secretary of the Interior.

    “From spearheading the dismantling of Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears national monuments to fast-tracking oil and gas leasing across Utah’s red rock wilderness, Zinke’s legacy is one of prioritizing short term exploitation and profiteering over the protection and sound stewardship of America’s public lands.

    “He will undoubtedly go down as one of the worst interior secretaries in living memory. Good riddance.”

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  • December 11th, 2018

    The Trump administration today offered up more than 150,000 acres of public land in Utah for fossil fuel development, including in the heart of some of the state’s most iconic landscapes. In response, dozens of Utahns gathered at a press conference in the State Capitol Rotunda to raise their voices in protest.

    SUWA Staff Attorney Landon Newell details the latest assault on Utah’s public lands under the Trump administration’s reckless oil and gas leasing program. Copyright Dave Pacheco/SUWA

    The Bureau of Land Management’s online auction offered 105 parcels of public land for oil and gas leasing and development, some within 10 miles of internationally beloved protected areas including Arches and Canyonlands national parks, Bears Ears and Hovenweep national monuments, and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. The sale also threatens public lands with wilderness characteristics.

    SUWA staff attorney Landon Newell explained that “Since December 2017 through its upcoming March 2019 lease sale, the BLM will have offered for oil & gas leasing and development approximately 500 lease parcels, consisting of more than 735,000 acres of public lands in Utah. This is an increase of more than seven-fold from what was offered over a similar time frame by the BLM under the Obama administration.”

    Fossil fuel development in these areas threatens multiple sensitive plants and animals, including the Greater sage-grouse, Black-footed ferret, Mexican spotted owl, White River penstemon and Graham’s beardtongue. It also stands to exacerbate already critical air quality problems in the Uinta Basin and would use tremendous amounts of water even as Utah closes out its driest year in recorded history.

    Adding insult to injury, the BLM is rushing to sell off ever larger tracts of our shared heritage in furtherance of the Trump administration’s ill-conceived “energy dominance” agenda, and the agency has moved to “streamline” its lease sale process by eliminating perceived “roadblocks” to energy development. These so-called roadblocks include, according to the agency, regular environmental review and public participation. As a result, the BLM has sold-off hundreds of thousands of acres of public lands for oil and gas development without fully involving the public or analyzing the impacts of its leasing decisions.

    Westminster College Environmental Justice student Liza Van Dyk speaks about the climate impacts of oil & gas leasing and the importance of listening to younger generations. Copyright Dave Pacheco/SUWA

    Westminster College sophomore Eliza Van Dyk put the lease sale in perspective as she conveyed the feelings of an entire generation. “Oil and gas leasing threatens to shatter our visions for a better world. For every well drilled, they are exacerbating the struggles of people who are already intimately experiencing the pain of climate change. And yet, BLM is leasing our futures without even letting us have a say! The absence of an accessible public comment period in the December lease sale has been a despicable violation of our rights as young people to secure just and livable futures for generations to come.”

    Marc Thomas of the Sierra Club’s Glen Canyon Group added, “These parcels offered for sale are almost always rubberstamped with a ‘finding of no significant impact’ regardless of what treasures they contain, whatever other values they may have, and whether they’ve ever even been inventoried.”

    Marc Thomas, Chair of the Sierra Club Glen Canyon Group, describes the BLM’s broken system and how it fails to recognize that “undeveloped lands are a critical buffer against widespread environmental degradation.” Copyright Dave Pacheco/SUWA

    SUWA believes that this uninformed “lease first, think later” approach to oil and gas leasing and development adopted by the BLM is both a disservice to the American people and unlawful. We intend to challenge the agency’s leasing decisions in court.

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  • December 11th, 2018

    Relentless. That’s the word that best describes the assault on Utah’s public lands from the Trump administration and Utah politicians over the past 12 months.

    From President Trump’s illegal reduction of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments last December to the nearly seven-fold increase in oil and gas leasing we’ve seen in Utah under the Trump administration, the people who would tear up Utah’s magnificent wilderness for fossil fuel development haven’t once let up.

    But SUWA has been relentless in defending the Redrock throughout 2018. And that defense is only possible because of the support from people like you.

    Click here to make a year-end contribution to SUWA today!

    The results of the midterm elections brought a ray of hope. The Democratic victory in the House of Representatives means Trump’s Department of Interior will finally face much-needed oversight in 2019.

    But the fact is, we still have at least two more years of the Trump administration, and they aren’t going to let up in their efforts to roll back protections and continue implementing their drill-everywhere “Energy Dominance” agenda.

    And the state of Utah, emboldened by the president’s relentless assault on Utah’s public lands, isn’t letting up either.

    Help defend Utah’s redrock wilderness in 2019 and beyond by making a special contribution today.

    With two more years of the Trump administration ahead, 2019 will be a time of defense. We need your support to:

    • Defeat President Trump’s illegal monument proclamations in federal court and restore Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears national monuments.
    • Fight back against the State of Utah’s more than 20 lawsuits that seek to gain rights to approximately 14,000 “hoax highways.” The state brought these cases with the express goal of blocking protection of Utah’s wild lands and turning them over to extractive industries and off-road vehicles.  After years of depositions and behind-the-scenes lawyering, SUWA will be defending the land against the state of Utah and Kane County in the first “bellwether” case this winter.
    • Hold onto the land until it can be permanently protected as wilderness or national monuments. That means our day-to-day work of defending the land against proposals big and small, from challenging energy leasing and development to blocking “chaining” projects to halting off-road vehicle abuse.
    • Build the movement to protect the Redrock. SUWA’s life blood for political strength and financial support comes from members like you. Our membership ultimately gives us our core political strength for both legislative and executive branch work.

    To meet these big challenges, we’ve set a big goal — raising $250,000 online by the end of this month.

    Can you help us reach that goal by making a special tax-deductible year-end contribution today?

    Click here to help protect the Redrock in 2019 and beyond.

    SUWA will never rest in our defense of America’s redrock. But our work is only possible with the support of people like you.

    Thank you for standing with us to defend Utah wilderness.

    Karin Duncker
    Development Director

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  • December 6th, 2018

    Today at the Utah State Capitol, a group of 40 young womxn* and allies — including students, educators, and community leaders from throughout Utah — braved the cold to make an urgent call for the protection of Utah’s irreplaceable wild lands in the San Rafael Swell and beyond.

    After several eloquent speeches, they walked to Governor Herbert’s office and delivered a statement signed by 79 young leaders explaining how the Emery County Public Land Management Act would exacerbate climate change and fails to sufficiently protect intact iconic landscapes such as Muddy Creek and Labyrinth Canyon. They also delivered nearly 4,000 postcards asking the governor to protect wild public lands throughout Utah.

    Read the complete statement delivered to Gov. Herbert here: https://bit.ly/2REPJsR

    Josee Stetich

    “Wilderness has irreplaceable and unquantifiable value to human life,” said Josee Stetich, event organizer and senior at Westminster College studying environmental science. “Harming these lands in the name of development at the expense of cultural resources and solitude is irresponsible to past, current, and future generations.”

    “In 2018, Utah experienced its driest year on record. Foreseeing this drought in March, Governor Herbert asked faith leaders to pray for snow. We need far more than prayers, however. We need action. We need to keep fossil fuels in the ground,” said Brooke Larsen, organizer of youth-led climate justice movement Uplift.

    Brooke Larsen

    Mishka Banuri

    Said Ella Baker-Smith, an actress and senior at Rowland Hall-St. Marks School “I have touched the glorious red rock down south and have marveled at how it seems to surround you like a warm fire. I have attempted to adopt that fire and use it to passionately advocate for you in thie very moment.”

    “The importance of public land has been impressed on me, and the benefits of wilderness became tangible, as soon as the land became an outdoor classroom for me and my students,” said Holly Lammert, a science teacher at Realms of Inquiry School.

    “Clearly our politicians aren’t willing to do the right thing, so this is a message to the politicians who aren’t interested in protecting land for future generations and to the people in power who value profits over people: the young people will not let this happen,” said West High School senior, and founder of Utah Youth Environmental Solutions, Mishka Banuri.

    *Womxn is a term used to include people of all gender orientations who identify as “women” or “femmes.”

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  • December 5th, 2018

    It’s finally December, which means, blessedly, that Congress is about to go home! But first they’re in a frenzy to complete their work for the session and pass as many bills as possible.

    Senator Orrin Hatch is trying to use this freneticism to glue the Emery County Public Land Management Act (S. 2809) to a potential public lands package being negotiated by the House and Senate.

    We can’t let this happen. Contact your representatives now and tell them to oppose Sen. Hatch’s “Not-so-Swell” bill!

    San Rafael River. Copyright Ray Bloxham/SUWA

    We’ve told you in the past that the bill fails to protect deserving landscapes like the San Rafael Badlands, Muddy Creek, and Labyrinth Canyon. And while Hatch has made some changes at the margins of the bill, they are not sufficient. The bill still protects far too little land, and the places it claims to protect are riddled with off-road vehicle routes. It also releases currently protected land for a coal mine and facilitates a land exchange that would allow the State of Utah to acquire nearly 12,000 acres of proposed wilderness! Finally, it gives away federal public land to the State of Utah for an expansion of Goblin Valley State Park.

    Don’t let Hatch hatch another anti-wilderness scheme! Contact your representatives now!

    Bottom line: the land that we fight for is better off if the bill doesn’t pass.

    Here’s what you can do. Click here to tell your members of Congress not to allow this bill to be attached to a public lands package—or any other.

    Then, call the Capitol Switchboard and say it again: 202-224-3121.

    Together we can make sure Sen. Hatch doesn’t get the coal mine he wants in his stocking.

    Thanks for all you do!

    P.S. Help us protect the San Rafael Swell in 2019 and beyond by making a tax-deductible year-end contribution to SUWA today. Click here to contribute.