Bush’s parting gifts to the oil and gas industry

And here is Utah’s reward for being the reddest state, the most supportive of the Bush administration. As one of his last acts, he opens up new land to oil and gas exploration on the borders of Arches and Canyonlands Parks.

Late on Election Day, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management announced a Dec. 19 auction of more than 50,000 acres of oil and gas parcels alongside or within view of Arches National Park and two other redrock national parks in Utah: Dinosaur and Canyonlands.

The National Park Service’s top official in the state calls it “shocking and disturbing” and says his agency wasn’t properly notified. Environmentalists call it a “fire sale” for the oil and gas industry by a departing administration. (snip)

A compromise ordered by the Interior Department requires the BLM to “take quite seriously” the Park Service’s objections, said Wolfe.

However, the BLM didn’t promise to pull any parcels from the sale, and in an interview after the supposed truce, BLM state director Selma Sierra was defiant, saying she saw nothing wrong with drilling near national parks.

“I’m puzzled the Park Service has been as upset as they are,” said Sierra.

“There are already many parcels leased around the parks. It’s not like they’ve never been leased,” she said. “I don’t see it as something we are doing to undermine the Park Service.”

Roy and conservation groups dispute that, saying never before has the bureau bunched drilling parcels on the fence lines of national parks.

That’s 50 thousand acres, folks, to be auctioned on December 19, one month before Obama takes office. I realize that the same people who supported Bush will undoubtedly think this is a great thing for the state. I wonder, is this one of those things that can be undone by congress or by executive order?

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  1. #1 by C av on November 17, 2008 - 9:50 am

    Twentyfive years ago, on the back wall of a desolated cabin near Coyote Gulch, someone had drawn a primitive cartoon map of the western United States. It was essentially wall to wall freeway designated as the L.A. / Bozeman Metropolitan Axis.

    In the middle of the only, very small island dividing directions, there was an even smaller cage, with a sign saying: Zoo, home of the last remaining Rattle Snake and Desert Tortise.

    We laughed back then.

  2. #2 by Obama the Paul [merLoT] on November 17, 2008 - 11:08 am

    My annual dues notice from SUWA came just in time.

  3. #3 by Becky on November 17, 2008 - 12:37 pm

    Cav and OTPM, do either of you know, once these these are auctioned off on December 19th, whether anything can be done to reverse it? Or anyone else reading this thread?

  4. #4 by C av on November 17, 2008 - 1:48 pm

    Becky, you got the jump on this. See: Commondreams.org, today.

  5. #5 by Becky on November 17, 2008 - 2:05 pm

    Thanks, Cav. We’d all better go see those arches one more time before they fall victim to ‘progress’. The arrogance of the BLM is astonishing.

  6. #6 by Richard Warnick on November 17, 2008 - 2:07 pm

    Becky– My understanding is that leases cannot be canceled once auctioned off, however the Obama administration could order the BLM not to issue drilling permits on these leases, except with a “no surface occupancy” stipulation.

  7. #7 by Larry Bergan on November 18, 2008 - 3:05 am

    Robert Redford a few choice-cut words about the deflowering of Utah’s irreplaceable wonders:

    Part of the change Americans just voted for in overwhelming numbers was to move away from the failed energy philosophy of “drill, baby, drill” to a more farsighted strategy, emphasized by Barack Obama, based on clean, renewable energy and efficiency. Yet on the very day that we raised our voices for change, the Bush administration dragged us in the opposite direction.

    Please read the whole thing!

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