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.
The court shut the door on the oil and gas industry’s desperate attempts to hold onto drilling leases that the Bush administration granted at auction in 2008. These leases, which came in the final days of Bush’s second term, bordered some of Utah’s most treasured and iconic landscapes. Earthjustice sued, and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar revoked the leases because the Bureau of Land Management failed to consider their environmental impact and consult with the National Parks Service.
Said Earthjustice attorney Robin Cooley:
As Secretary Salazar recognized, the prior administration was in a headlong rush to issue oil and gas leases without concern for the spectacular scenery, pristine air, and outstanding recreational opportunities of these lands.
The ruling prioritizes the public interest over profit margins, and Earthjustice’s involvement in the case reflects the fundamental principle on which the organization was founded: the right of the people to defend the environment in court.
The adverse effects of drilling techniques such as fracking have already been exposed (flammable tap water, anyone?). Further, drilling in particularly valuable and vulnerable areas has already proved ill conceived, as exemplified by Shell’s repeated failures in the Arctic. We certainly don’t want our National Parks to become the next site for the oil and gas industry’s experiments.
National Parks are areas where we maintain a relationship of admiration and appreciation for nature. They are places where we recognize that the land is valuable in and of itself, not by virtue of how we can use it to serve our ends. The industry’s plans to exploit and extract are not compatible with that vision.