The New Republic’s Energy and Environment blog has an article today about Ken Salazar, the new interior secretary, and his effort to repeal one of the last-minute Bush administration laws. In the closing months of the Bush administration they passed a bill that would open up large tracts of Bureau of Land Management land in Utah. The problem is that Salazar has simply stalled the opening of these lands for drilling, which is currently a legal practice. From the article:
Unfortunately, there’s an underlying problem that still needs fixing. In offering the leases for sale in December, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) was simply acting in accordance with the new resource-management plans for its lands in Utah. These plans, which the Bush administration rushed to complete before the end of last October, leave about 80 percent of the BLM’s 11 million acres in Utah open to energy development. If the BLM continues to manage its Utah lands according to these guidelines, which are supposed to last for 20 years, then this week’s environmental victory will only be a temporary one. Conservation groups are challenging the management plans in court, and their lawsuits may well be successful. But the Obama administration needs to start drafting replacement plans that take into consideration the sensitive nature of Utah’s red-rock country by putting more of it off-limits to drilling.
I would love to see the Obama administration expand federal protection through not only Utah but much of the other semi-protected federal lands in other states. Traveling through Southern Utah during my Freshman year here at Whitman was simply amazing and truly created a new sense of environmentalism in me. I only wish that the lands stay pristine so that others can have the same experience that I was fortunate enough to have.