SOUTHERN UTAH WILDERNESS ALLIANCE * NATURAL RESOURCES DEFENSE COUNCIL * SIERRA CLUB

For Immediate Release: May 7, 2012

Contact:
Stephen Bloch, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, 801.428.3981
Bobby McEnaney, Natural Resources Defense Council, 202.289.2429
Mark Clemens, Utah Chapter of the Sierra Club, 801.467.9294 x.102

(Salt Lake City):  National and regional conservation groups applaud tomorrow’s planned signing of the Greater Natural Buttes Record of Decision by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.   http://www.suwa.org/2012/04/05/suwa-announces-landmark-conservation-agreement/.  The decision to allow the Anadarko Petroleum Corp., to drill some 3,500 natural gas wells in a heavily developed area in northeastern Utah, to be announced Tuesday by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar Tuesday, shows how competing interests can be balanced in a way that is a win-win for all sides.

“We appreciate Anadarko’s willingness to meet with us, listen to our concerns, and adjust its project to eliminate and mitigate impacts,” said Stephen Bloch, energy program director for the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance.  As a result, the company’s final proposal eliminated several locations in the White River proposed wilderness area.  In addition, Anadarko acquired private lands along the river corridor for conservation purposes and is taking other steps to mitigate or eliminate the sight and sound of development for families and river runners on the White River.  “These kinds of compromise agreements confirm that Utah can have a robust energy sector while at the same time protect its wildest public lands.”

The Interior Department’s approval of the Greater Natural Buttes project stands in stark contrast with its support for the controversial Gasco natural gas project.  That project, which has been heavily criticized by conservation groups and in the New York Times, Akron Beacon-Journal, and Salt Lake Tribune, would permit Gasco Energy, Inc. to drill more than 200 new natural gas wells in the Desolation Canyon proposed wilderness, an area recognized by the Interior Department and conservationists as being wilderness caliber. (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/07/opinion/a-win-win-deal-on-natural-gas.html?_r=1, http://www.ohio.com/editorial/editorials/drill-protect-and-preserve-1.301196, http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/opinion/53802589-82/gas-plan-wells-blm.html.csp).

“The Interior Department’s apparent willingness to support Gasco’s project and its devastating impacts on the Desolation Canyon proposed wilderness is bewildering,” said the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Bobby McEnaney.  “Rather than follow in the footsteps of several recent compromise agreements between conservation groups, the oil and gas industry and state and federal agencies, the Interior Department is turning its back on this type of collaborative approach.  That’s just not acceptable.”

“There’s a stark contrast between the landmark Anadarko deal and the Gasco proposal.  Hundreds of new wells, as proposed by Gasco and supported by the Interior Department, in rich habitat for elk, antelope and gamebirds, and within the sight and sound of the river would spoil opportunities for hunting, wildlife viewing, and river rafting,” said Mark Clemens with the Utah Chapter of the Sierra Club.

###

Steve Bloch