Public lands in Wyoming and Utah embody the unrestrained beauty of American wilderness. Thanks to the effort of conservationists and activists, including thousands from the Care2 community, public lands in these two states are now better protected against the pollution of the oil and gas industry.
Earlier this month, the 10th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals rejected the energy industry’s attempt to force the Secretary of the Interior to issue oil and gas leases on public lands in Utah and Wyoming. But, after discovering that the Bureau of Land Management had not fully complied with laws and policies designed to protect sensitive resources like sage grouse and wilderness values, the Interior Department declined to issue the permits.
“This is a victory for Wyoming and Utah’s beautiful public lands,” said Melanie Kay, Earthjustice attorney for the conservation groups who intervened in the case to defend the Secretary’s decision. “The district court recognized that the Interior Department, not the energy industry, holds the reins when it comes to deciding whether and how much to drill on public lands. Where the lands are scenic wonders with ecological value, the Secretary has the full authority to just say no.”
The decision is also a victory for the thousands of Care2 community members who signed petitions, like this one that asked to protect the Wyoming Range from drilling, or this one that aimed to keep oil and gas drilling out of Utah’s Desolation Canyon.
Although it may seem that oil and gas companies have all the money and all of the political influence, victories like this show that the fossil fuel industry doesn’t make the rules. Enough voices, raised together in protest of greedy practices, can still be effective in stopping environmental destruction.
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