Because of these factors, NRDC along with our partners, the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, The Wilderness Society, and the Utah Chapter of the Sierra Club have filed a federal lawsuit to protect this incredible wilderness from the short sighted actions of the administration and the drilling company. Regrettably, this all could have been avoided if only the administration and the Gasco drilling company had been genuinely committed to working with stakeholders in seeking a solution that avoided the most sensitive areas. For an alternative existed, proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency, which would have allowed Gasco to drill on nearly 200,000 acres of lands, but avoid the handful of acres identified as wilderness (less than 3% of the total project area).
Others have agreed with that premise. The region’s leading paper, the Salt Lake Tribune, issued an editorial today that says as much:
"Their action [the lawsuit] is in Utah’s best interest, and all Utahns should welcome it. Desolation Canyon and proposed wilderness areas in the region are among Utah’s outdoor recreation gems. Allowing this scale of energy development in such a sensitive environment is neither necessary nor prudent. Alternative proposals would allow drilling while protecting Desolation Canyon and its value to the state."
NRDC and its partners still believe that a workable solution can be arranged that benefits all of the varied interests – that would protect the Desolation Canyon wilderness while balancing the needs of developers in accessing the plentiful oil and gas resources found on federal land.
(Photo Credit: Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance)