Trump Administration Sells Oil and Gas Leases Near Utah National Monuments
The Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) lease sale includes more than 51,000 acres of land near Bears Ears—the national monument significantly scaled back by the Trump administration last year—as well as the Hovenweep and Canyons of the Ancients monuments.
The Trump administration has aggressively pushed for fossil fuels. Even though Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has previously insisted "this is not about energy," Interior Department documents made public by the New York Times earlier this month showed that gaining access to the oil, gas and uranium deposits in Bears Ears and coal reserves in Grand Staircase-Escalante were key reasons behind the drastic cuts to the two Utah monuments.
Conservation groups say the leases are contrary to federal laws and regulations, as oil and gas development will lead to the destruction of culturally and environmentally rich areas. Researchers recently discovered what may be one of the world's richest caches of Triassic period fossils at an extensive site within Bears Ears' original boundaries.
Rare Fossils Discovered on Lands Cut From Bears Ears National Monument https://t.co/bcZFaR5nEB #BearsEars @NWF… https://t.co/UGvpaWrdyB— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1519316441.0
"We won't sit idly by while President Trump and Interior Secretary Zinke auction off America's cultural and public lands heritage to the oil and gas industry," said Stephen Bloch, legal director with the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA). "This lease sale flies in the face of historic preservation and environmental laws that Congress put in place to make sure that BLM thinks before it acts; not 'lease first, and think later.'"
"BLM's short-sighted decision threatens Utah's red rock wilderness as well as significant cultural and archaeological resources," added Landon Newell, staff attorney with SUWA. "BLM's 'lease everything, lease everywhere' approach to oil and gas development needlessly threatens iconic red rock landscapes and irreplaceable cultural history in the ill-conceived push for 'energy dominance.'"
In addition to Bears Ears, Hovenweep and Canyons of the Ancients monuments, BLM also plans to offer leases in other culturally and ecologically significant public lands throughout southeastern Utah, as conservation groups outlined:
- Several tracts in a culturally rich part of southeastern Utah known as Alkali Ridge. BLM briefly considered leasing in this area in 2015, but acknowledged that it lacked sufficient information about the cultural resources in the area and backed away from the proposal. The agency is putting these cultural sites at risk without collecting and reviewing that information;
- Several tracts along segments of the Green River and San Juan River popular with families, recreational business and tourists for river running, as well as home to several endangered fish species; and
- Several tracts in proposed wilderness areas including in Goldbar Canyon and Labyrinth Canyon near Moab, Utah, and in Cross Canyon, immediately adjacent to Canyons of the Ancients National Monument.
Nada Culver, senior director of The Wilderness Society's BLM Action Center pointed out, "Secretary Zinke and the BLM have acknowledged that some places should not be put at risk from oil and gas drilling, as we saw in his recent reprieves for lands around Chaco Canyon and the town of Livingston, Montana.
"The extraordinary cultural resources and wilderness values of these Utah lands deserve the same protection," Culver noted.
Zinke Proposes New National Monument in His Home State But Wants to Shrink Them Elsewhere https://t.co/LfQW41cPtT… https://t.co/NHNYLd9bC9— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1511830207.0
Reuters reported that local officials are eager to extract resources from the areas in order to provide economic benefits in some of Utah's poorest areas.
"Oil and gas operations are an important contributor to a diversified county economy and the county supports leasing as a necessary step toward realizing economic benefits," county planner Nick Sanberg said in comments to the BLM.
However, as Reuters detailed, "recent lease sales have yielded relatively low bids, a reflection of soft demand for federal property as the oil and gas industry taps vast reserves on private lands."
By Anke Rasper
"Today's interim report from the UNFCCC is a red alert for our planet," said UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.
The report, released Friday, looks at the national climate efforts of 75 states that have already submitted their updated "nationally determined contributions," or NDCs. The countries included in the report are responsible for about 30% of the world's global greenhouse gas emissions.
- World Leaders Fall Short of Meeting Paris Agreement Goal - EcoWatch ›
- UN Climate Change Conference COP26 Delayed to November ... ›
- 5 Years After Paris: How Countries' Climate Policies Match up to ... ›
- Biden Win Puts World 'Within Striking Distance' of 1.5 C Paris Goal ... ›
- Biden Reaffirms Commitment to Rejoining Paris Agreement ... ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
India's New Delhi has been called the "world air pollution capital" for its high concentrations of particulate matter that make it harder for its residents to breathe and see. But one thing has puzzled scientists, according to The Guardian. Why does New Delhi see more blinding smogs than other polluted Asian cities, such as Beijing?
- This Indian Startup Turns Polluted Air Into Climate-Friendly Tiles ... ›
- How to Win the Fight Against Plastic - EcoWatch ›
In a historic move, the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) voted Thursday to ban hydraulic fracking in the region. The ban was supported by all four basin states — New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania and New York — putting a permanent end to hydraulic fracking for natural gas along the 13,539-square-mile basin, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
- Appalachian Fracking Boom Was a Jobs Bust, Finds New Report ... ›
- Long-Awaited EPA Study Says Fracking Pollutes Drinking Water ... ›
- Pennsylvania Fracking Water Contamination Much Higher Than ... ›
Colombia is one of the world's largest producers of coffee, and yet also one of the most economically disadvantaged. According to research by the national statistic center DANE, 35% of the population in Columbia lives in monetary poverty, compared to an estimated 11% in the U.S., according to census data. This has led to a housing insecurity issue throughout the country, one which construction company Woodpecker is working hard to solve.
- Kenyan Engineer Recycles Plastic Into Bricks Stronger Than ... ›
- Could IKEA's New Tiny House Help Fight the Climate Crisis ... ›
To save the planet, we must save the Amazon rainforest. To save the rainforest, we must save its indigenous peoples. And to do that, we must demarcate their land.
A new EarthxTV film special calls for the protection of the Amazon rainforest and the indigenous people that call it home. EarthxTV.org
- Meet the 'Women Warriors' Protecting the Amazon Forest - EcoWatch ›
- Indigenous Tribes Are Using Drones to Protect the Amazon ... ›
- Amazon Rainforest Will Collapse by 2064, New Study Predicts ... ›
- Deforestation in Amazon Skyrockets to 12-Year High Under Bolsonaro ›
- Amazon Rainforest on the Brink of Turning Into a Net Carbon Emitter ... ›