Judge Temporarily Halts Oil & Gas Leasing on Utah Public Lands


Some of the land available for lease is near Canyonlands National Park. Photo: Peter & Joyce Grace via flickr

One of the last minute acts by the Bush administration which would’ve opened up public lands near Utah’s national parks has been halted, at least temporarily, by actions of a US District Court judge. The move is the result of a lawsuit filed in December by the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, the Wilderness Society and Earthjustice. Here’s more:
Domestic Energy Gains Not Worth Environmental Degradation
In his ruling, Judge Ricardo Urbina said that the any gains to be had from development of domestic energy resources on the lands were outweighed by the public interest in avoiding damaging the environment of these areas. The merits of the case will be heard at a later date in 2009.

Considering that the BLM is prohibited from cashing checks for land leased at auction until the merits of the case are heard, I wonder Tim DeChristopher who placed an inspired $1.7 million bogus bid to protect some of that land from development will make an effort to actual raise the cash needed to hold onto his lease. If he fails to do so, federal prosecutors could charge him with fraud.

UPDATE on DeChristopher
I hadn't seen this at the time, but apparently DeChristopher is attempting to raise the money needed to actually lease the land he bid on. The Huffington Post has an excerpt on DeChristopher's appeal letter .

More: NRDC
US Public Lands
Bush Administration to Open Public Lands Near Utah’s National Parks for Natural Gas and Oil Drilling
Student Monkey-Wrencher Raises Bids, Then Funds, For Utah Land Leases
New Solar Energy Applications Will Continue to be Accepted by BLM

Tags: Conservation | Energy | Oil | United States | Utah

Best of TreeHugger