Kristin Murphy, Deseret News
Senator Orrin G. Hatch speaks during the investiture ceremony for the new U.S. Attorney, David B. Barlow, at the Frank E. Moss Courthouse in Salt Lake City on Friday, Dec. 9, 2011.

It is disappointing to see Sen. Orrin Hatch stoop to delivering talking points for the oil and gas industry (Sen. Orrin Hatch focuses on three priorities in new year," Jan. 8).

The simple truth is that Utah's energy industry is booming. Just this past year, Utah reached an all-time record of 10,000 producing oil and gas wells. But record production doesn't seem to be enough for industry.

In an attempt to convince us to give away our public lands for private gain, Hatch and other apologists for Big Oil have cried that oil and gas companies don't have enough of our public lands.

In reality, the oil and gas industry has all the access it needs. According to data released this month, in Utah alone, 70 percent of federal lands leased for drilling are idle — leaving 3.3 million acres open to new development.

How we develop domestic energy is a critical issue for the West, and we deserve to have the facts instead of a spin.

Matthew Garrington, Denver, Colo.

Checks & Balances Project