Utahns protest oil, gas lease auction near national parks
Opponents to the Trump administration’s plan to lease public lands for fossil-fuel extraction near some of Utah’s national parks gathered at the Utah State Capitol on Tuesday.
Landon Newell, staff attorney for the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance told 2News the protest was in regards to the "massive sell-off of public lands."
Representatives and volunteers from the Utah Chapter of the Sierra Club, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance and Center for Biological Diversity participated in a press conference aimed at bringing awareness to the leasing and potential threat to the parks from the Bureau of Land Management's plan to allow fracking on 150,000 acres near:
- Canyonlands and Arches national parks,
- Bears Ears,
- Canyons of the Ancients and Hovenweep national monuments,
- Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.
The protesters claim the drilling will harm popular recreation areas and habitat for sensitive wildlife. The online auction was also scheduled Tuesday.
In a prior news release, the Sierra Club stated:
Despite increasing concerns about climate change and damage to wildlife habitats, about 90 percent of federal public lands in the West are available for oil and gas leasing. Federal oil and gas leasing commits millions of acres of public land to fossil fuel industrialization that pollutes the air and water, destroys habitat for sensitive and endangered wildlife and threatens public health.
The lease sale is part of a larger plan by the Trump administration to ramp up fossil-fuel extraction on public lands.
The BLM states on its website that the onshore oil and gas program has the goal of "facilitating safe and responsible energy development while providing a fair return for the American taxpayer."