US Department of the Interior

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Posted in CITIES, CLIMATE, ECOLOGY, ECONOMY, ENERGY, ENVIRONMENT, ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE, HABITAT, HISTORIC LANDSCAPES, NATIONAL PARKS SERVICE, POLLUTION, PRESERVATION, REGION, REGULATIONS, RESILIENCE, SHORELINE, THE BACK, WATER, WILDLIFE, tagged Act antiquities, Bear Ears, conservation, drilling, Grand Staircase-Escalante, Katharine Logan, mining development, national monuments, oil development, pollution, Slickrock Trail, Trump Administration, US Department of the Interior, Utah, Wildlife Corridors July 23, 2020 | Leave a comment ”

Resource extraction companies are moving onto public lands like never before.

Since the creation of the Antiquities Act in 1906, American presidents had the authority, honor and privilege to designate as national monuments the most culturally and scientifically significant public lands in the country – including, by corollary, some of the most spectacular, rich in biodiversity, rich in heritage and downright magnificent landscapes of America.

It’s doubtful that presidents also have the reverse authority – to desecrate a national monument once protected – but doubtful is good enough for the current incumbent. In December 2017, the Trump administration announced the reduction of two national monuments in southern Utah, Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears, to fragments of their former expanses, exposing culturally and ecologically significant places to oil and mining development.

The desecration of Grand Staircase and Bears Ears illustrates a larger trend in this administration’s management of public lands. Since 2017, federally owned land and water totaling more than four times the area of ​​California has been leased to the energy sector. Utah, with its oil, gas and mineral resources underlying the vistas of the Colorado Plateau, is at the forefront. About 65% of the state is federally owned, and the US Department of the Interior has received some 230 lease nominations covering more than 150,000 acres. The development of these leases threatens Red Rock Canyon lands, wooded plateaus, indigenous cultural sites, archaeological treasures and geological wonders. Some of the leases would allow drilling within half a mile of renowned protected sites, such as Canyonlands and Arches National Parks, and within 10 miles of the drastically reduced boundaries of Bears Ears. (Continued…)

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