Obama Administration Puts Desolation Canyon Wilderness in Its Crosshairs – Redrock Report March 2012

Here’s what is happening this month with the redrock:
1.  Take action to protect Desolation Canyon!
2.  Join Aron Ralston in giving back to Greater Canyonlands.
3.  New tar sands proposal is still too much.

Obama Administration Puts Desolation Canyon Wilderness in Its Crosshairs

Last Friday, the Interior Department issued the Gasco natural gas project final environmental impact statement and moved one step closer to approving this massive development project which would include 215 new wells in the Desolation Canyon proposed wilderness.  Incredibly, those 215 wells (only 7 less than the company asked for) would fragment the proposed wilderness 50% more than even Gasco proposed in its initial plans.

Looking north/northwest from the Sand Wash airstrip (Sand Wash road leading to the river put-in below). Wells would be drilled atop the Bad Land cliffs (background) and on the western (left) edge of the Wrinkle Road in the photo.

Under the BLM’s preferred alternative for this project – Alternative F — the Gasco natural gas development project will degrade wilderness and wild landscapes, further jeopardize the region’s air quality and hurt the state’s tourism.   In giving its tentative support for Alterative F, the Interior Department rejected calls by the Environmental Protection Agency and tens of thousands of citizens from across the country to approve an alternative to Gasco’s proposal that would have allowed for significant development while also protecting the Desolation Canyon proposed wilderness and reducing the overall footprint and impact of the project.

Fortunately, there is still time for you to weigh in and tell Secretary Salazar to protect Desolation Canyon!  The BLM hasn’t issued its ‘record of decision’ for the Gasco project and can still change its mind about which alternative to adopt.

Tell Secretary Salazar to protect the Desolation Canyon proposed wilderness!

Also, sign our Change.org petition and spread the word — tell your friends to take action to protect Desolation Canyon!

Greater Canyonlands Campaign Heats Up

Packed house for Aron Ralston in Boulder, CO

“It’s not enough to go out in places like Greater Canyonlands and have fun.  You also need to give back.”

A year and a half ago, while filming 127 Hours in Salt Lake City, Aron Ralston called up the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance and insisted on coming down to the office.  He wanted to talk about how he could help protect Utah’s redrock canyon country, including the landscape where his accident took place – Greater Canyonlands.

On March 8, Aron stood on stage at the Boulder Theater in Boulder, CO and not only shared his personal story, but also described the beauty and wonder of Greater Canyonlands and asked the audience to call on President Obama to protect the area by proclaiming it a national monument.

About 800 folks were in attendance, and redrock volunteers from CUWild at UC-Boulder and Coloradans for Utah Wilderness were able to collect 600 postcards and hundreds of photo messages to President Obama.  There was also some great press surrounding the event, including an op-ed in the Boulder Daily Camera.

Join Aron in the campaign to protect Greater Canyonlands!

Cody Spyker was the lucky winner of the March prize — a Petzl headlamp.

1) “Like” the new Protect Greater Canyonlands Facebook page and invite friends to “like” the page as well.

2) Send a photo message to President Obama like the one pictured at left.  Visit our Facebook app or greatercanyonlands.org to get started.  You’ll also be entered to win a prize in a monthly drawing — a Petzl headlamp is the prize for April!

3) Join a “banner brigade” and hold up “Protect Greater Canyonlands” signs when President Obama comes to your city!  Click here to view an inspiring video from past banner brigade activists.

4) Visit greatercanyonlands.org to find out other ways that you can amplify your message to President Obama.

Still Too Much Proposed Tar Sands Leasing

The BLM recently released its 2012 Oil Shale and Tar Sands Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (Draft PEIS), an effort by the BLM to determine what areas – if any – in Utah, Colorado, and Wyoming should be available for dangerous and far-fetched oil shale or tar sands leasing and development.

In the recently-released Draft PEIS, the BLM’s preferred alternative (Alternative 2b) proposes to make 252,181 acres available for shale leasing in Utah and 91,045 acres available for tar sands leasing.  This is still too much! For that reason we support a different alternative (Alternative 3) that would go even further toward shutting the door on this “unconventional” fuels nightmare.  Alternative 3 prohibits new oil shale leasing and most tar sands development.  Under this alternative, only existing oil shale research, development, and design leases would remain on public lands.  One commercial tar sands project just outside of Vernal could continue to undergo environmental reviews and permitting.  That’s it.

Written comments on the Draft PEIS should be submitted by May 4 using an online comment form on the Draft PEIS Website at http://ostseis.anl.gov. This is the preferred method for commenting. Comments may also be submitted by regular mail to: Oil Shale and Tar Sands Draft Programmatic EIS, Argonne National Laboratory, 9700 South Cass Avenue, EVS 240, Argonne, IL 60439.