Officials with the Bureau of Land Management announced today (Friday) that parcels of land in and around the San Rafael Swell will not be offered at an upcoming oil and gas lease auction.
Last summer, BLM officials had indicated that parcels of land in Emery County, in and around the San Rafael swell would be available for oil and gas leases at a federal auction. But an enormous outpouring of public protest followed that decision and on Friday, Juan Palma, director of the BLM in Utah released a statement saying most of that acreage will not go up for sale. Megan Crandall is a spokesperson for the BLM Utah office.
“Public input played a very large role in our decision making process. Under the national leasing Reform the public has even more opportunity to give us input when we’re in the decision making process, which is wonderful. And so, we consider that input and in looking at it we felt that many of these parcels in that area, we really needed to go in and just take another look,” says Crandall.
Conservation groups are praising the BLM’s decision. Steve Bloch is the legal director for the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance. His group along with the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council and others file a formal protest when the lands in and around the San Rafael Swell were included in the auction plans, but Bloch says with this decision that protest has been withdrawn.
“There are several leases that are off the sale list for this time, but I think it’s important to note that there’s tens of thousands of acres that are going ahead with auction that are in less sensitive areas. So we think this is a very good, balanced decision,” says Bloch.
More than 140,000 acres divided into 82 parcels of federal land will still go to auction next week. Those areas are located in Carbon, Emery and Uinta Counties.