SALT LAKE CITY — One day after climate change activists delivered letters to federal land managers demanding all fossil fuel extraction cease on public lands, they leveled more criticism over a Tuesday oil and gas lease sale in Utah.
The online auction by the Bureau of Land Management in Utah offered 154,212 acres across the state from multiple districts.
Of the 105 parcels, 69 contained 97,795 acres from the Green River District, 34 parcels contained 52,593 acres from the Canyon Country District and two parcels contained 3,837 acres from the Color Country District.
The agency reported it received a little over $3 million for the 96 parcels that received bids.
Critics blasted the lease-sales as the largest since the Bush administration, but the "additional" acreage is a result of a January policy shift that directed consolidation of oil and gas lease sales on a statewide level, rather than district by district.
The Center for Biological Diversity, the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance and the Sierra Club held a press conference at the Utah Capitol on Tuesday to outline the groups' concerns.
They assert the parcels are too close to Canyonlands and Arches national parks, Bears Ears, Canyons of the Ancients and Hovenweep national monuments and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. They stressed the drilling will harm popular recreation areas and habitat for sensitive wildlife.11 comments on this story
"This is what Trump’s ‘energy dominance’ agenda looks like in Utah,” said Landon Newell, staff attorney with the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, in reaction to the auction results. “Oil and gas operators win. Everyone else loses."
In a statement released earlier, the National Parks Conservation Area said the lease sales sacrifice the long-term health of land for short-term gain.
"These decisions, happening with little to no opportunity for the public to weigh in, could irreparably damage these treasures for current and future generations," said Erika Pollard, the group's associate director of the southwest region.