Thursday, January 1, 2009

Undermining in the State of Utah

In late December, the Bureau of Land Management auctioned off about 148,000 acres of land adjacent to national parks in Utah for oil and gas drilling, despite fierce opposition from environmental groups. This excellent article in ProPublica spells out the reasons why this is particularly destructive to the lands we have set aside for preservation and to the water supply for parts of the western United States and Mexico.

There are two related stories that lift my spirits a little bit, though.

The first story, published in the Salt Lake Tribune, tells how one individual was able to disrupt the sale in a heroic act of civil disobedience. Tim DeChristopher, a University of Utah student, registered for the auction, went into the room, and won bids on about 22,500 acres ($1.8 million) worth of land near Arches and Canyonlands National Parks. He also succeeded in driving up the prices for an unknown number of other parcels of land in the auction. The US Attorney's Office is still deciding how to handle the case, but if bidding is reopened on the disputed parcels, it would not occur until at least February, when the next administration is in office.

The second story, another ProPublica piece, reports that 58 members of Congress have sent a letter to Barack Obama's transition team asking them to reverse the leases and refund the money to the energy companies. Several environmental groups have also filed suit, and a ruling on that case is expected by February 19th.

3 comments:

Dirt said...

That story about DeChristopher sabotaging the auction is terrific. He deserves some kind of award for creative disobedience.

I am sure that angle will never work again though. After this any auctions will be carefully screened.

On the other hand, perhaps after the Inaugaration there won't be any more auctions like this.

Dirt said...

PS welcome back TFE!

Denise said...

Update:
http://www.sltrib.com/ci_11626266