The Bureau of Land Management is again selling off the wonders of Utah.
Southeast of Blanding, bounded by the still existing Bears Ears, Canyons of the Ancients and Hovenweep national monuments, lie the latest parcels being auctioned for oil and gas development.
Federal law requires that the cumulative environmental impact of such sales be carefully considered.
To circumvent this requirement, and the obvious negative conclusions that would result from a complete assessment, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has broken the clustered parcels into three separate sales over the last 18 months, and assessed the impacts of each sale separately … and inadequately. The BLM is required to assess the complete project, including the impacts of the use of the extracted materials. The BLM did not do this. The assessments are a sham.
I know this area. I’ve explored it for years. Just like the surrounding national monuments, it is simply not suitable for fossil fuel development. There has never been a comprehensive survey of the cultural resources of this area and a cultural review conducted by tribes has been ignored by the federal government. The BLM has also failed to adequately assess impacts to night skies, and air and water quality.
The impacts of oil and gas development in this area will not stop at state and monument boundary lines. A complete, comprehensive environmental assessment needs to be conducted for the entire area being auctioned. The BLM should cancel its proposal to sell additional leases and suspend the leases they have already issued until the total impact of opening this area to development can be determined.