Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

The BLM proposes six new oil and gas leases on Utah public lands


The Biden Administration’s oil and gas leasing moratorium last January was met with opposition. Landon Newell, a Staff Attorney with the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, explained that an injunction was issued against the leasing pause, ending it. BLM offices in several states have since reopened lease sales. Oil and gas leasing is a concern for carbon emissions, contributing to climate change. 

“The Department of the Interior recognized that one of the principal problems, if not the principal problem with the oil and gas leasing program, was that that program as a whole contributes nearly a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions in the United States”, said Newell.

Newell is concerned with how carbon emissions would increase should more lands be auctioned off, and said although 2.9 million acres of land are leased in the state, they are not all developed yet, 

“60% of the leased lands in Utah haven't been put into production. And that amounts to about 1.6 million acres of leased land that haven't been put into production.”

Currently the BLM is in the scoping phase of this process for the six parcels, four along the Green River in the Uintah Basin, and one close to Goblin Valley State Park. In the scoping phase BLM will take comments from the public, prior to conducting an environmental impact assessment, said Newell.

“And really, what that is, is they bring forward a proposal. In this instance, it's these six parcels. And they, and then they have, essentially, a little bit of information about the parcel saying, this is what we're thinking of doing these, where they're located. What issues should we be considering?”

The period for commenting on this phase closes October 1st. Once the environmental assessment is completed, the results from that assessment will be made public, and another round of commentary from the public will begin. 

UPR will be following up once the assessment is available, and the second commentary period opens.

Ellis Juhlin is a science reporter here at Utah Public Radio and a Master's Student at Utah State. She studies Ferruginous Hawk nestlings and the factors that influence their health. She loves our natural world and being part of wildlife research. Now, getting to communicate that kind of research to the UPR listeners through this position makes her love what she does even more. In her free time, you can find her outside on a trail with her partner Matt and her goofy pups Dodger and Finley. They love living in a place where there are year-round adventures to be had!