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Our public lands in Utah and beyond are under threat

by Vanessa Butterworth

April 28, 2020

The oil and gas industry is pushing to drill on more precious public lands while the country is reeling from COVID-19

The oil and gas industry is actively pushing the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to allow new drilling and fracking leases covering more than 150,000 acres of land near the Arches and Canyonlands national parks and Bears Ears National Monument outside of the area’s “master leasing plan” in Utah.

Allowing new oil and gas extraction to happen in Utah would advance the climate crisis, threaten the national parks, destroy treasured public lands, and put the great Colorado River at risk for contamination.

To put this into perspective: the oil industry wants to drill through a piece of land greater than the size of three of Utah’s five national parks: Arches, Zion, and Bryce.

As the price of oil continues to drop, the oil and gas industry is trying everything in their power to put their interests before COVID-19 relief. Pushing through massive new extraction projects while the country is focused on surviving the COVID-19 crisis and unable to fight back is unconscionable. And, with Trump being all too eager to help enable the oil industry to act this way, we need to speak up now.

Here’s why it’s so important that the DOI suspend all public comment periods across the board during the COVID-19 pandemic:

Since the novel coronavirus crisis began, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has put more than 80,000 acres of land up for lease sales in 6 states. In the face of dual crises, (the COVID-19 crisis and the climate crisis), the BLM is barreling in the opposite direction of what the U.S. needs. Any use of public lands must take into account all those reliant upon the land, and the communities and wildlife who call those lands home must have a say in their use. There’s no way the BLM — or any government entity, for that matter — can adequately consult with communities and tribes, or perform real environmental assessments while folks are trying to survive COVID-19.

Without people like you, places like Arches National Park wouldn’t have protection — and we need to keep fighting. The BLM is working towards the next round of lease sales set to go public in September. We cannot allow oil companies to cover iconic desert landscapes and other national treasures with roads, well pads, trucks, pipelines, and pollution.

Demand DOI immediately suspend all current public comment periods, oil and gas lease sales, and new policy proposal for public lands and waters during the COVID-19 crisis.

The Department of the Interior exists for the benefit of the public, not oil companies

Sign the petition to demand the Department of the Interior (DOI) stop all public land leases to the fossil fuel industry during the COVID-19 pandemic. Let’s remind them of what their job is. If we don’t act now, these lands and waters will be sold off to polluting industries, impacting ecosystems and communities for decades to come. 

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Vanessa Butterworth

By Vanessa Butterworth

Vanessa currently works as the Senior Digital Strategist at Greenpeace and sits on the Rising Tide North America organizing team. Outside of paid work, she organizes with frontline groups against police brutality, gentrification, and environmental racism. Over the past ten years, she's worked on campaign, mobilization, direct action, and movement strategy across the US and Canada. She's originally from Mississauga of the New Credit Territory as known as Caledon, Ontario, but now lives in Oakland, California on Ohlone Territory.

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