An environmental group is asking the governor to step in and stop legislation that would open some federal lands for oil shale development.
The Sierra Club opposes an energy bill passed by the House on Tuesday that would reverse a ban on oil shale development in Utah, particularly the Book Cliffs' Tavaputs plateau and Desolation Canyon near Green River.
In a statement Thursday, the Sierra Club said a provision in the bill added by Utah Rep. Jim Matheson puts "Utah's Wildlife Sanctuary" at risk. The areas involved contain some of the state's largest populations of elk, black bear, cougar and big horned sheep.
The group called oil shale development "an unproven technology" and encouraged environmental activists to ask Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. to step in an protect the state's wildlife.
Huntsman's office received "a handful" of calls on the issue, his spokeswoman, Lisa Roskelley said Thursday.
She said the governor supports Matheson's amendment.
"This is basically a pathway forward to look at options toward energy independence and economic development," she said. "What's important is that it doesn't negate any of the environmental issues. Those will still go through the process."
The energy bill would also increase offshore drilling. Matheson, D-Utah, supported the energy bill, while Utah Republican Reps. Rob Bishop and Chris Cannon both opposed it.