Residents, organizations protest possible BLM’s land-lease agreement

Posted at 6:57 PM, Sep 16, 2013
and last updated 2013-09-16 20:57:09-04

Many people came out in protest Monday to the headquarters at the Bureau of Land Management to speak out against a possible land-lease agreement for natural gas drilling.

The BLM released a proposal to lease 143,000 acres of central Utah wild land – 80,000 acres would be near the San Rafael Swell. Monday was the last day for residents and environmental groups to speak out against the proposed lease.

“It’ll become an industrial zone with big trucks and pipes and drill rigs and all that kind of stuff.  People don`t come to Utah to see drill rigs they come to see the wild land that we treasure so much,” said Tim Wagner with the Sierra Club.

BLM officials said many people don’t realize that similar drilling leases are already in effect in areas near to the proposed piece of land. The challenge is trying to decide when enough is enough, said Juan Palma, BLM state director.

“We have to take a look at all the natural resource issues, environmental issues, any kind of plant or animal community, and that`s why we`ve already cut it down from a 1.1 million acres to only 143,000,” Palma said.

BLM officials confirmed the state and its residents would see revenue from the proposed drilling.

“By voicing their concerns we are able to adjust whatever parcels we need to adjust so I believe the process is working it is transparent and that`s what we are going to continue to do,” Palma said.

The areas affected are not in the San Rafael Swell, officials said, but many feel the land is too close for comfort.

'They`ve made a mistake by putting this area up for leasing. There are some areas that should not be up for industrialization and The San Rafael swell is one of those areas,” Wagner said.