I've just returned from 2 weeks in Utah and this is very gratifying to see the Salt Lake Tribune let Utah's Sen. Bennett have it with both barrels for his sleazy tactics to reinstate 77 oil and gas leases in some of Utah and America's most scenic crown jewels on public land. Land I know intimately from my visits to Southeastern Utah.
Bennett demands Interior ransom
It is hard to believe that Sen. Bob Bennett is holding up the nominations of two people to fill positions in the Interior Department because he believes it is good for Utah and the country. More likely his motives are political. But whatever his reasoning, Bennett is wrong. And he's about to lose this showdown.
His coercive hostage-taking, which puts pressure on Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to continue the wrongheaded policies of the Bush administration, is wrong. His promotion of oil and gas drilling everywhere in Utah, even on sensitive lands bordering national parks, is wrong.
So, too, is Bennett's desire to prolong the nation's dependence on fossil fuels instead of encouraging development of clean alternative energy that can bring long-term economic benefits to Utah and the West.
Yes these are the same 77 leases that University of Utah student Tim DeChristopher bid against oil and gas companies. winning bids for 13 leases including more than 22,500 acres of spectacular public land near Moab Utah. About 200 of his supporters attended his court hearing last week in S.L.C. where DeChristopher plead not guilty using a defense of civil disobedience. He faces up to 10 years in prison.
What I did no doubt puts me at significant risk, including prison. But my future was already at significant risk. As we get closer and closer to the point of too late, we have less and less to lose from resisting. Accepting the true depth of the climate crisis is extremely scary, but the purpose of fear is to motivate us to action.
Tim DeChristopher is a new hero of mine. Link to blog DeChristopher wrote here
Back to the S.L.C. Tribune's editorial:
Urbino correctly ruled that the environmental impact on the parcels near Arches and Canyonlands national parks and Dinosaur National Monument had not been adequately evaluated.
This is an issue I care deeply about. I just returned from 10 days in Moab Utah where I hiked in Arches and Canyonlands national parks, and I Mt. biked a number of the famous rides in the Moab area outside of the national parks that are on public land that is up for lease as part of these 77 parcels. The trails on land up for lease that I rode included Klondike Bluffs, Gemini Bridges, Amasa Back and Mill Canyon Loop. Even the world famous Slick Rock Mt. bike trail could become the site for drill pads.
Far from being good for Utah's economy this would be a serious blow to the tourist dependent economy of Moab and tourism in Utah's eastern Counties. For a couple of days I was camped next to some Mt. bikers who came all the way from France to ride these spectacular trails. Would they still come if all the best trails were cris crossed with roads and drill pads? I doubt it. I even doubt I would.
As a serious amateur photographer I am also offended that anyone would consider despoiling these scenic national treasures for corporate profits.
Update: We have been joined in our discussion by brand new D-Kos member Tim DeChristopher below