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Kristin Murphy, KSL

Utah's western desert oil, gas leases generate money and protests

By Amy Joi O'Donoghue, KSL | Posted - Jun 11th, 2019 @ 9:09pm


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SALT LAKE CITY — The lease-sale of seven oil and gas parcels on federal land in Box Elder County generated more than $35,000 in revenue for the Bureau of Land Management on Tuesday, but it also stoked a protest at the Utah Capitol.

About a dozen people showed up to express their concern about the potential impacts of oil and gas industry activity on land in the greater Great Salt Lake ecosystem, which supports more than 10 million migratory waterfowl and 300 distinct species of birds.

Carly Ferro, an organizing representative with the Utah Sierra Club and one of the speakers at the Tuesday protest, said the BLM parcels are only one of many contemplated development projects within an environmentally sensitive area, including the Inland Port.

People protest an auction of 10,000 acres of public land for oil and gas drilling near the Great Salt Lake and Hogup Mountains in Box Elder County during a rally at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, June 11, 2019. (Photo: Kristin Murphy, KSL)

She said the concern over the oil and gas leases is so great, in particular, that conservation groups such as the Great Salt Lake Audubon and Friends of the Great Salt met with Gov. Gary Herbert's office to request Herbert's intervention in the proposed lease sale. She said she did not hear if any action was taken by Herbert's office.

Dean Dinas, who attended the protest, complained that the missing piece of the conversation revolves around the cumulative impacts of industry activity and its potential impact on the airshed.

"No one mentions the stacked environmental problems that will happen," he said.

Dinas said if the leases are developed, such activity will likely drive up fine particulate, or PM2.5 levels, which are already a challenge along the Wasatch Front.

Related:

In its report of lease-sale results, the BLM said the parcel that sold for the highest amount went for $5,120. In total the sale generated $35,600.

Fiik Exploration LLC, out of Salt Lake City, submitted the highest total bid per acre of $2.

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