Signaling the end of an era in which off-road vehicles like ATVs and jeeps were allowed to run roughshod over public lands, a federal judge in Utah has struck down a Bureau of Land Management ORV plan for 2.1-million acres of central Utah.
What's at Stake
Earthjustice fought off an attempt toward the end of the Bush administration to open vast swatches of precious Utah wildlands to nearly unlimited off-road vehicle use.
In late 2008, the Bush administration attempted to cement its pro-development philosophy in the BLM's land management plans applicable to Utah's public lands for decades to come. These public lands include areas adjacent to Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, Dinosaur National Monument, and Ninemile and Desolation Canyons. The development authorized under these plans will have severe impacts on wildlife, rivers and streams, cultural resources, and air quality in some of Utah's most spectacular places.
On behalf of several conservation groups, Earthjustice filed suit in December 2008. In January 2009, Earthjustice obtained a temporary restraining order prohibiting BLM from finalizing the Utah leases until after the change in administrations in Washington. Once Obama took office, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced that BLM would not finalize the leases, but would conduct additional environmental analysis.
In 2012, the 10th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals rejected a challenge by the energy industry against Secretary Salazar’s decision not to issue 77 of the leases.
It is rewarding to successfully wrap-up a case. This can be especially true when our work protects special places, preserving them for future generations. It is a pleasure to be able to point at a map and say, “Those are the places that were saved.”
Earthjustice and the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance are challenging a set of Bush-era land use plans that expanded oil and gas drilling onto federal lands bordering the Canyonlands and Arches National Parks. The plans opened dirt roads and trails to motorized vehicles, causing immense damage to open land, streams, wildlife and endangered species. They also failed to account for climate change, which has introduced a long-lasting drought and other serious ecological disruptions to the Southwest region.
Thanks to a recent federal court decision, visitors to Utah’s public wild lands can continue to raft the Green River in Dinosaur National Monument without seeing oil derricks around the river’s bends.
They can continue to enjoy the outlook from Canyonlands National Park’s Grand View Point without drill rigs littering the landscape.
And they won’t be forced to see the formations at Arches National Park as gateways to increased carbon emissions and environmental disruption.
A federal court ruled against the energy industry’s request for it to revisit a 2010 decision upholding the withdrawal of oil and gas leases in Utah. The leases were granted in the dying days of the Bush administration and many would have allowed drilling adjacent to National Parks and Monuments.
The 10th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals today put an end to the energy industry’s attempt to force Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar to issue 77 oil and gas leases at the doorstep of some of Utah’s most treasured and iconic landscapes, including Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, and Dinosaur National Monument. The leases had originally been auctioned off as part of a last minute give away to the oil and gas industry in the waning days of the Bush administration. Sec.