An environmental group says the decision to lease a large area of the Book Cliffs for oil and gas exploration shows Utah can’t manage its own public lands.
The Center for Western Priorities thought Utah’s governor was right when he asked the State Institutional Trust Lands Agency -- or SITLA – to hold off on issuing a drilling lease in a roadless area of the Book Cliffs. But Policy Director Greg Zimmerman says SITLA isn’t doing its job when it comes to finding the best use of Utah’s school trust lands.
Zimmerman tells KUER, “This decision shows they’re incapable of balancing the needs of schools but also the needs of other folks who use those lands, like hunters and anglers and hikers and wildlife viewers. The Book Cliffs are prized by sportsmen throughout Utah and really throughout the country.”
Zimmerman says the situation demonstrates that Utah’s attempt to take control of federal public land in the state is a bad idea.
Kim Christy, a spokesperson for SITLA, told KUER the agency is moving ahead to finalize the lease with Anadarko Petroleum in spite of the governor’s objections.