As one of the most breathtaking areas of the entire United States, the red rock country of Utah is revered for its beauty, solitude, and the existence of unique cultural artifacts like ancient cave dwellings and rock art.
But now, thanks to the “drill first, ask questions later” policy that was so popular under the previous administration, big oil and gas companies are forcing their presence in this pristine wilderness, and threatening to destroy these wild lands with uncontrolled drilling unless new policies are put in place to permanently protect it.
SaveBioGems.org reports that “for eight years, the Bush administration maneuvered to turn redrock country- a safe haven for antelope, bighorn sheep and other wildlife- into a maze of drill rigs, pipelines, roads and waste pits. The rapid growth of unrestricted off-road vehicle use is also a gathering threat to the spectacular landscapes of this region.”
While Bush was in office, oil and gas companies were allowed unprecedented access to public lands that should have been strictly protected, all while collecting $72 billion in taxpayer subsidies to carry out their search for fossil fuels.
Back in 2008, the National Development and Reform Commission, the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, and the Wilderness Society joined forces to bring a significant lawsuit to the attention of the federal government. After an appeals court victory that will protect thousands of acres of stunning redrock country from oil and gas drilling, the Interior Department is finally working on new policies for oil and gas leasing on federal lands that are expected within the next few weeks.
Due to the likelihood that these new policies might be viewed as very restrictive by the oil and gas companies, it’s not surprising that they have mounted an extensive campaign to derail the new guidelines.
That’s why it’s more important than ever that Americans join together to voice their opinion on this potential use of public wilderness lands. Keep in mind that it’s not only Utah that could stand to suffer the consequences of excessive development in these areas.
In addition to eleven million acres of Utah’s Red Rock canyon country, Colorado’s Vermillion Basin, New Mexico’s Otero Mesa, and Wyoming’s Red Desert are also being eyeballed by these fuel industries.
Those that oppose this development are encouraged to contact Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and urge him to move forward with new guidelines that will protect these wild lands from unnecessary oil and gas drilling.
It took millions of of years for swirling wind and sand to carve the delicate sandstone arches that conservation giants like Edward Abbey fought for so stoically, and wrote about so eloqently. Let’s not allow the oil and gas industry to detroy in a matter of days.
Click HERE to sign the Wilderness Society’s petition and send a personal message to Secretary Salazar.
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