The decision to withdraw almost 100-thousand acres of public land from tomorrow’s auction of oil and gas drilling leases is being criticized by industry groups and members of Utah’s Congressional delegation as caving in to pressure from environmental groups.
A group representing off-road vehicle users doesn’t think a court decision against a BLM Resource Management Plan means all the others are in trouble.
The Bureau of Land Management issued six Resource Management Plans for its offices in southern and eastern Utah in the closing weeks of the Bush administration. This week, a federal judge ruled the off road vehicle routes in the Richfield plan are invalid and ordered BLM to take another look.
Environmentalists are reminding the Bureau of Land Management that public opposition to expanding a coal strip mine in Kane County hasn’t gone away.
The Sierra Club and other groups went to the BLM office in Salt Lake City to deliver more than 45-thousand public comments opposing the expansion of the coal mine. The mine currently operates on private land near the town of Alton. The agency is about to issue a supplemental environmental impact statement on the plan that could allow it to expand onto public land in the same area.
The federal Bureau of Land Management intends to lease nearly one hundred forty thousand acres in and around the San Rafael Swell in eastern Utah for oil and gas drilling. Many conservationist groups are angry about the lease auction, which is set to take place in November.
The BLM itself has deemed much of the land to have wilderness and recreational value, but BLM Spokesperson Megan Crandall says that they decide whether to manage lands for wilderness uses or for other uses, like development.
Officials at the Natural History Museum of Utah announced today the discovery of a new dinosaur species related to Triceratops. Paleontologists made the discovery in the nearly 2 million acres of wilderness in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in southern Utah. Doctor Scott Sampson led the study following the initial find in 2006. He says the Nasutoceratops titusi was unique for an oversized nose and long, curving horns.
One of the items on the agenda of Wednesday’s special legislative session is the possible repeal of a controversial bill restricting the authority of federal law enforcement officers. KUER’s Dan Bammes has more.
House Bill 155 limits the authority of Bureau of Land Management or Forest Service personnel to enforce state laws on public land, and threatens them with prosecution if they try it. A federal court has issued an injunction preventing the state from implementing the law.
Rural counties in Utah will get less money this year from the Payment in Lieu of Taxes program, or PILT. The federal government provides the funding to counties with large areas of public land. Garfield County has more than two million acres of federal land, but this year it will get just over $800,000 dollars from the PILT program.
County Commissioner Leland Pollock says providing services on federal land is a burden on local taxpayers.
The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument covers 1.9 million acres of Kane and Garfield Counties. It’s not the easiest place to visit, but there’s an effort underway to improve access along one of its most popular roads.
Seven environmental groups are telling the Bureau of Land Management they plan to sue the agency over its leasing plan for oil shale and tar sands. They say the agency didn’t consult the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over the possible impact on endangered species.
Attorney Steve Bloch with the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance says the 60-day notice is required before the suit can be filed in federal court.
Notch Peak is a 9600-foot mountain about 35 miles west of Delta, Utah. From the top, it’s a two-thousand foot drop straight down – and that’s one reason why it’s become a favorite spot for BASE jumping – jumping off the cliff with wing suits and parachutes. There have been two fatalities there in the past year, one just ten days ago.
US Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar has announced a plan to encourage oil shale and tar sands development in the Mountain West. The Bureau of Land Management released its final plan Friday to develop and test technologies to extract these fossil fuels in Utah, Colorado, and Wyoming. But the citizen group Utah Tar Sands Resistance says this move will endanger the environment and public health.
Monday is the deadline for people who own a few mining claims on public land to make sure the government knows they want to keep them. The paperwork is minimal and the $140 fee for maintaining a claim can even be waived.
Under a federal law that dates back to 1872, the rules for mining claims aren't that different for the lone prospector and the huge companies that extract millions of dollars' worth of minerals from public land. That bothers Tim Wagner with the Sierra Club, who says big corporations pay almost nothing for the minerals they extract.
The Salt Lake Tribune names its Utahns of the Year, Several Utah cities designate city parks as Christmas Tree drop off zones, and the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance moves forward with a lawsuit against the Bureau of Land Management.
The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance filed new court papers last week to move its case ahead challenging six Resource Management Plans for Utah adopted by the Bureau of Land Management at the end of the Bush administration. The new filings focus on the RMP for the Richfield field office, an area that SUWA lawyer Steve Bloch says includes some of Utah's most spectacular country.
"Places like the Dirty Devil, Factory Butte, the Henry Mountains, Muddy Creek on the southern end of the
Utah spends millions of dollars promoting the state as a location for movies and commercials, and offers significant tax breaks to production companies when they come here. A recent confrontation outside Moab caused some worry about the state's reputation as a prime spot for shooting movies.
Back in July, Jerry Bruckhheimer's production company was in southern Utah, shooting scenes for the upcoming Lone Ranger movie starring Armie Hammer and Johnny Depp.
The Bureau of Land Management was expected to issue a decision this fall on whether to allow Alton Coal Development LLC to expand its strip mine in Kane County. But it's now decided to issue a Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement on the project. That won't come out until early next year, and it will be followed by another six-week period for public comment. Keith Rigtrup, who has supervised the process for the BLM since it was first proposed in 2006, says they got a lot of feedback on the draft EIS.
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management is asking for public comment on a proposed land swap in the Skull Valley area of Utah's West Desert. It would trade about 14,000 acres, mostly near the town of Terra, for a similar acreage of private land in and around the Onaqui Mountains east of Dugway.
The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance supports the trade. Field Director Ray Bloxham says this is an unspoiled area of the state.
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management has approved a plan proposed by Gasco to drill 1,300 new oil and gas wells in eastern Utah over the next 15 years. Some of the wells will be drilled in the Desolation Canyon area near the Green River. That has environmental groups warning of what they call a "disaster."