SALT LAKE CITY — If elementary school kids want to win a state-sponsored Earth Day poster contest, they'll have to tout the benefits of oil, gas and mining.
In a contest sponsored by the Society of Petroleum Engineers and organized by Utah's Division of Oil, Gas and Mining, students are to draw posters for Earth Day that stress the industry's importance. The contest theme, e "Where Would WE Be Without Oil, Gas & Mining?" is drawing outrage from some parents and environmentalists.
"We're celebrating fossil fuels 364 days a year," said Cherise Udell of Utah Moms for Clean Air. "Can we have just one day that celebrates alternative energy like solar, wind and geothermal? Can we have just one day, please?"
"Our modern society does not exist without the natural resources that we take from the ground and put to use each day."
Utah Moms for Clean Air is launching its own contest, raising $500 per grade kindergarten through sixth to match the society's contest awards.
The Division of Oil, Gas and Mining said 79 students participated in the contest last year with the same theme.
"Our modern society does not exist without the natural resources that we take from the ground and put to use each day. It's our charge to ensure that those natural resources are developed in a responsible manner," said the division's spokesman Jim Springer.
In the contest instructions, students are asked to highlight the extraction techniques and reclamation methods that "minimize environmental impacts while providing society with the raw materials required to have our high standard of living."
Springer said he has only received one complaint about the contest.