Elizabeth Heyd, NRDC, 202/289-2424 or 202/725-0648 (cell)
WASHINGTON (November 25, 2008) --The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Utah agreed to lease 69 parcels of land to oil and gas drilling today, against the recommendation of the National Park Service. The lease sale releases more than 300,000 acres of protected public lands near Arches and Canyonlands National Park, along with eastern Utah's Dinosaur National Monument, which hosts nearly 2 million tourists per year.
Before the resolution was announced, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), and eight of her colleagues sent a letter to Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne urging him to postpone the lease sales on lands previously identified as having wilderness character. However, this evening the Bureau of Land Management deferred the release of only 24 of 93 parcels, exposing the remaining parcels to lease by oil and gas companies.
“Just in time for Thanksgiving, this deal is a real turkey -- giving away protected land for exploitation by the oil and gas industry,” said Bobby McEnaney, a public lands expert at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). "This is another unnecessary rollback by the Bush administration that will continue our nation's dependence on oil, when we should be moving to new, clean energy solutions."