For Immediate Release: December 17, 2008 

Contact:  
Stephen Bloch, SUWA, (801) 428-3981

SUWA and Others File Suit to Stop Controversial Sale of Oil and Gas Leases in Proposed Wilderness Near National Parks

The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance and a broad coalition of conservation and preservation groups filed suit in federal district court today to stop the BLM from auctioning off wilderness-quality lands for oil and gas development.  The lease sale, which is scheduled for December 19, follows BLM’s equally controversial issuance of six management plans for public lands across eastern and southern Utah, which opened up vast swaths of red rock country to oil and gas drilling and off-road vehicles.

The contested lease sale would lead to the industrialization of some of Utah's most spectacular wilderness-quality landscapes, including Desolation and Nine Mile Canyons, and would degrade air quality at Arches and Canyonlands National Parks and Dinosaur National Monument. 

“BLM cut corners on this lease sale, which will do nothing to lower the price that Americans pay at the pump or to heat their homes,” said Stephen Bloch, Conservation Director for the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance.  “What it will do, however, is leave a legacy of ruin in some of Utah’s most iconic landscapes.”

The complaint (Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance v. Allred) argues that the BLM, in its haste to complete the lease sale before the new administration takes office, disregarded impacts to air quality, failed to protect archaeological sites, ignored the impacts of climate change on public lands, and failed to consider how oil and gas drilling exacerbates the effects of climate change.  Joining SUWA as plaintiffs in the case are the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Sierra Club, the Grand Canyon Trust, the National Parks Conservation Association, The Wilderness Society, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.  The plaintiffs are represented by attorneys from SUWA, Earthjustice and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

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