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Oct 11, 2012 | 1198 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Pertaining to the proposed February 2013 lease sale of 39 parcels, 51,693 acres, I believe there is a question that no one has asked the Bureau of Land Management: How did a parcel that overlaps Moab’s watershed make it to the nomination process? Had no one raised a red flag, and the watershed information had not been made public, would the BLM have pulled the parcel anyway? 

That question aside, I have other concerns. During the KZMU radio program of Oct. 1, the BLM guests stated there was “no significant impact” to the environment per the results of the draft environmental assessment. Environmental assessments are notorious for being shortcuts to approval. Only the most superficial impacts are addressed.

The BLM seems to be basing their conclusion on a prediction (based on past history) of only 10 percent of the leases going into development with a slight trend of an increasing percentage becoming successful. This might be an understatement with serious repercussions.

As quoted in the Deseret News Oct. 6, “The BLM notes that none of the remaining parcels proposed for leasing overlap aquifers or protection zones, and the leases, if won through bid, do not allow any ground surface disturbances until additional environmental reviews take place.”

Are those reviews further EAs, or full-blown environmental impact statements (EIS)? Is this BLM policy, or an idle promise?

BLM officials mentioned that oil and gas leasing has been in this area for nearly a century, however, hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” is a more recent introduction into the mining industry. There is only a minority that questions the environmental costs of fracking. Is this the result of a dearth of “mainstream” reporting regarding the problems following this ‘boom’ industry? Major TV networks are airing misleading American Petroleum Institute-funded commercials that are pro-fracking.

What is the impact to systems necessary to support this industry? Where would the required water for fracking come from? How would the numbers of trucks and mine-supporting traffic increase? Who pays if private wells are contaminated? How will temporary oil industry workers be housed? What is the history of an increased illegal drug presence in other “oil drilling boom” communities? These are real issues that need to be addressed by the city and county governments affected by the BLM’s actions prior to lease sales. 

The BLM stated on the radio that the skyrocketing ozone problem in the Uinta Basin is a “mystery.” If there is a new and serious air pollution problem in the region and it is a “mystery,” shouldn’t current lease sales be postponed until the industry gets a handle on what is causing this and other problems that are cropping up all over the country?

—Carol Mayer


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