For Immediate Release: March 24, 2004
Washington, DC. Testifying before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA), presented evidence showing that the sacrifice of Utah’s crown jewel America’s redrock wilderness would only provide a nominal quantity of natural gas. With 95 percent of oil and gas resources coming from lands entirely outside of lands proposed for wilderness designation, SUWA calls energy development in Utah’s last remaining wild places both short-sighted and ineffective.
"SUWA is pleased that the Committee is holding a hearing on the environment and natural gas supplies because it allows the Congress and the American public to understand that wilderness is neither a cause nor a solution to our nation’s energy predicament", said Stephen Bloch, SUWA Staff Attorney, who testified at the Committee hearing.
Since 2001, the Administration has distracted the American public by focusing the Nation’s attention and its federal land management policies on energy development in the country’s few remaining wild places. Lands that even the Bureau of Land Management recognized as having wilderness values have been stripped of protection and are now targeted for energy leasing.
According to an analysis of data produced by the Department of Energy, the U.S. Geological Survey, and the State of Utah, approximately 95 percent of the State’s gas and oil resources come from seven energy-rich "hot spots." None of Utah’s seven key energy producing regions are proposed for protection in the America’s Redrock Wilderness Act (S. 639/H.R.1796). Even if Utah’s proposed wilderness were exploited for its energy resources, the most current USGS data suggests that the land could yield little more than a few weeks of natural gas at current consumption levels.
"Our nation’s last unprotected wilderness areas are an irreplaceable treasure, not a cash cow for the energy corporations," Bloch explained. "Moreover, even if we sacrifice Utah’s redrock wilderness we cannot meaningfully reduce the price of natural gas."
"While the government’s own data indicates that there is little natural gas to be gained from drilling Utah’s wilderness quality lands, one thing is certain exploration and development will leave lasting scars on this magnificent redrock landscape," said Bloch. "That, in my estimation, is truly a high price to pay."