Obama Spares 100,000 Acres from Bush-Approved Oil Drilling


Photo via CW56

In the last few weeks of his term, the Bush administration controversially approved 77 sites for oil drilling in Utah. The move was immediately challenged by environmental groups, and a federal judge agreed--he said the review process for opening up the lands was hasty and faulty. Now, it appears that the Obama administration has sided with the enviro groups and the judge--they say that all but 17 of those sites were improperly approved.Or in their words, that the leasing process was "rushed" and "badly flawed." This is good news--those 77 sites cover some 100,000 acres of land in Utah.

According to the NY Times:

An Interior Department review team presented Secretary Ken Salazar with a recommendation that drilling be allowed to proceed on 17 of the 77 parcels. But it also said that the leases on eight parcels should be withdrawn and that 52 should be subjected to further study because of potential threats to wildlife and air and water quality.
This confirms that the Bush administration was indeed attempting to rush the leases on the land, foregoing proper environmental evaluation. Many conservation groups believe that upon closer inspection, many of those 52 sites will be withdrawn as well, since they house important ecosystems and drilling could threaten wildlife. The NRDC was especially pleased:
"Stopping the leasing of these treasured lands to protect them from devastation by oil and gas companies was the right thing to do. The Department of Interior should move forward with clean energy solutions that will protect our pristine wild lands and vital wildlife areas and cut carbon pollution."
Indeed. With any luck, the need for issuing such destructive permits will slow as the clean energy reform bills pick up steam in Congress.

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