Secretary Salazar Scuttles Oil and Gas Leases Near National Parks in Utah

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, in a move that repudiates the Bush administration's energy policies, on Wednesday scuttled a series of controversial oil and gas leases near national parks in Utah.

The Interior secretary, on the job less than a month, says the $6 million worth of leases in question need a more thorough environmental review to determine whether their development would imperil Arches and Canyonlands national parks or Dinosaur National Monument.

"In the last weeks in office, the Bush administration rushed ahead to sell oil and gas leases near some of our nation's most precious landscapes in Utah," Secretary Salazar told reporters during a conference call. "We will take time and a fresh look at these 77 parcels to see if they are appropriate for oil and gas development."

The secretary's action wasn't entirely unexpected, as the Obama administration signaled early on that it wasn't behind the leasing decision.

"They want to have oil and gas drilling in some of the most sensitive, fragile lands in Utah," John Podesta, who headed the new administration's transition team, said just days after the November 4 election. "I think that's a mistake."

Comments

I am a great fan of the parks and other public lands in southern Utah, so I am pleased with this action. The resources in question may eventually be developed, but this administrative action may give a bit more breathing room to better decide how to best protect important natural and cultural areas and balance competing public interests.

Ray, I couldn't agree more. It is good to see that these protected lands will, indeed, be protected!

That's good news. I petitioned against this through IMBA, so I am also very pleased that the new administration is taking a closer look at this proposal.