Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance

Rep. Holt protects the wilderness

8:40 am

The following letter to the editor ran last week in the Times of Trenton.  We join Terry in thanking Rep. Rush Holt for his tireless advocacy for protecting Utah wilderness.

Rep. Rush Holt (D-Hopewell) has been a long-time champion for the people and conservation. On April 18, he once again stepped up to the plate as the new lead sponsor of America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act, which would protect more than nine million acres of spectacular public lands in Utah from threats including oil and gas development, mining and inappropriate off-road vehicle use.

I thank Rep. Holt for his bold, visionary leadership in seeking to protect these lands that are owned by every American citizen, including all of us in New Jersey. I have hiked in southern Utah and know firsthand the value of preserving the natural, recreational and cultural resources of the region for future generations. The act would leave large undisturbed landscapes intact, helping to reduce the effects of global warming on this dry, desert area.

All of us in New Jersey should applaud Rep. Holt for his commitment to protecting our country’s wild places and, specifically, America’s Red Rock Wilderness in Utah.

– Terry Stimpfel,
The writer is New Jersey Sierra Club Central Group chairwoman.
Jackie Feinberg

A monumental error about monuments

10:34 am

Yesterday, in the Sun Advocate – the Carbon County local newspaper – the following was published by contributing writer Dennis Willis:

When I read Carbon County Commissioner John Jones’ testimony to Congress on the Antiquities Act, I was stunned by his statement; the people of rural Utah, “live in fear,” of the presidential power to create National Monuments. Further in his testimony, Commissioner Jones described how the designation of the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, “devastated the economies of Kane and Garfield Counties and the lifestyles of the people live there.” In the devastating twelve years after the designation their population rose by 8%, jobs rose by 38% and per capita income increased by 30%.

By comparison Carbon County should be in the chips since the 1996 monument designation. Along with not being encumbered by a monument, Carbon enjoyed a net loss of federal land within the county. Several thousand acres of mineral rich BLM lands in Carbon County were transferred to the State of Utah. Since the designation, Carbon has seen the development of four coalbed methane fields, a conventional gas field, some limited oil drilling. The Lila Canyon Coal Mine opened just across the line in Emery County. The nearest population center, coal shipping facility and mine service companies are all in Carbon County. While the monument is closed to oil and gas development, 78% of the public lands in Carbon and Emery Counties are available for leasing.

While the population around the GSENM was growing, Carbon County population declined and has just recovered to the 1996 level. Jobs grew by about 3%. Per capita income grew by just 11%. In 1996 both Kane and Garfield counties had lower per capita income than did Carbon. The reverse is now true despite all the extractive industry development in Carbon.

Read more by clicking here.


BREAKING NEWS: 77 Leases Lawsuit Dismissed

2:04 pm

Today the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals made the right decision to dismiss a lawsuit filed by oil and gas companies and three Utah counties attempting to force the issuance of the long-dead 77 leases. Those 77 leases were located in places like Arches and Canyonlands national park regions, Desolation Canyon, Labyrinth Canyon, and the White River. These are special, magnificent places that should be preserved in their natural state rather than being sacrificed for the short-term gain of a few. This is a welcome ruling. Read the decision in Impact Energy v. Salazar here:

David Garbett

Don’t trade away public lands to become the next North Dakota

6:32 am

The following opinion piece ran in the Deseret News on Wednesday, Sept. 5:

No offense to North Dakota, but Utah would be ill advised to trade away its spectacular public lands to become North Dakota II. According to a recent Deseret News editorial, “North Dakota’s natural gas production and aggressive energy policy have created a sustained boom.” (“Federal land use policy preventing Utah energy independence,” Aug. 29).

Unfortunately, the editorial appears to fall into a group that views public lands as a source of shame rather than pride — like a teenager embarrassed by his family. Apparently, if only we were North Dakota (if only my embarrassing family were like my neighbors’), then everything would be cool. Proponents of this view would trade our birthright for a mess of pottage.

Read more by clicking here.

David Garbett

Robert Redford speaks up for Desolation Canyon

12:35 pm

In the Denver Post yesterday, Robert Redford wrote:

We have few places left that represent the raw beauty and the history of our American West like Desolation Canyon, in my home state of Utah.

It was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1968 for good reason. John Wesley Powell explored Desolation Canyon a century earlier, one of the last uncharted places in the lower 48 states. For thousands of years before that, the region was home to American Indian tribes including the Hopi, Fremont and Ute people. Their pictographs and petroglyphs still line the canyon walls; silent reminders linking us to the most fundamental roots of civilization.

Yet now, much of that is at risk.

The Interior Department is on the verge of approving a Denver company’s proposal to drill nearly 1,300 gas wells in northeast Utah.

Denver-based Gasco Energy wants to drill more than 200 of these wells in the Desolation Canyon proposed wilderness area alone. It wants to put more holes into the surrounding plateaus that until now have remained unthreatened for all of history.

Think about the consequences:

Scenic roads throughout the region would suddenly be clogged with diesel trucks and drilling equipment. Debris from drilling and construction of pipelines and service roads would threaten tributaries to the Green River. Sounds of drilling would replace the last vestiges of natural silence and would be heard at Sand Wash, the put-in for recreational river runners vital to Utah’s tourism industry. One of the most remote places in America would be despoiled.

Is this what we really want to do to our country? Certainly, it’s not what most Americans want.

Read the rest of his op-ed by clicking here.

Then, join Robert Redford’s call to protect Desolation Canyon by signing our petition and spreading the word!