Controversial Oil & Natural Gas Leases on Utah Public Land Cancelled by Department of Interior

dinosaur national monument photo

Lands near Dinosaur National Monument were among the area leased. Photo: Mestdagh via flickr

Remember the brouhaha about the Department of Interior opening up wilderness in Utah, which was right next to several national parks, to oil and gas exploration leasing? Well, the new Interior Secretary, Ken Salazar, has canceled the leases, protecting more than 100,000 acres of public land.

The Washington Post reports that some of the leases, valued at $6 million, might be offered up again at action, but only if a new review indicates that they would not threaten air quality or other aspects of surrounding protected areas. But it’s not just policy on these public lands which is up for review:Offshore Oil Drilling, Oil Shale Development to be Reviewed

Next week the House Natural Resources Committee will hold the first in a series of scheduled hearings on offshore oil drilling, the policies on which Salazar has said he intends to revamp in consultation with Congress. Salazar is also reviewing a rule easing commercial oil shale development; he must decide what federal parcels to offer in pending lease sales in the West; and he will have to decide in the coming months on land-management plans for areas in Colorado and Wyoming that contain valuable resources as well as imperiled species and wilderness habitat.

The leases cancelled were in areas near Arches and Canyonlands national parks, Dinosaur National Monument, and Nine Mile Canyon. In December a coalition of environmental groups filed suit to stop the leases and in January a temporary restraining order was issued to prevent the BLM from moving forward with the leases.

via: Washington Post, NRDC
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