The Deseret News' April 2 story on the recent public lands bill's potential to pave the way for more renewable energy projects begs the question of what is going to happen to the rest of the public lands — more than 78,000 acres out of the 90,000 acres total — that the School and Institutional Land Trust Administration is set to receive in this trade?
The likely answer is that the lands will be used for fossil fuel energy development. SITLA, unlike the federal public lands management agencies, has a legal duty to wring maximum revenues from the lands it manages. So while SITLA may be spinning this trade as a boon for renewable energy in Utah, the overriding reason it pursued this deal was to acquire federal lands with greater fossil fuel potential than the lands it currently manages in Emery County.7 comments on this story
This begs a further question, worth investigating: What is the relative cost of this trade in regards to climate change? In other words, how long will it take to generate enough renewable energy on those 12,000 acres to outweigh the climate cost of extracting oil, gas and coal from much of the other 78,000 acres that are part of the trade?
I doubt SITLA has any interest in answering that question but it's one worth raising with the Bureau of Land Management when the public gets its opportunity to comment on this trade after the terms are finalized.