Conservation groups file suit against government over drilling plans

Save Story
Leer en espaƱol

Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.

Seven conservation groups filed suit against the government today to block what they call a "fire sale" of oil and gas drilling leases here in Utah. One group called Friday's expected sale a "parting gift from the Bush administration" to the oil and gas industry.

That sale is expected to take place in Salt Lake on Friday and covers what the suit calls some of the "most spectacular red-rock" land in the state.

At stake: 80 tracts of federal land that add up to more than 100,000 acres, mainly located in eastern Utah. The groups also allege the BLM has ignored air quality, climate change and archeological impacts by offering up the lease sale.

Conservation groups file suit against government over drilling plans

The land up for lease sale includes parcels in Desolation Canyon, Nine Mile Canyon and parcels near Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park and Dinosaur National Monument.

"Why do the sale now in the heart of red-rock country? And I think the inescapable answer is this is the fire sale. This is the rushed fire sale that the Bush administration wants to complete before it leaves office," said Stephen Bloch, attorney with the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance.

Bloch calls the auction "last-minute mischief by the Bush administration." That's why the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, along with a host of other environmental groups, filed the suit in federal court in Washington, D.C., today.

Conservation groups file suit against government over drilling plans

Tomorrow, there's expected to be a hearing where a judge will decide whether to delay Friday's auction.

We contacted the BLM to get their take on the lawsuit. A spokeswoman there said it is their policy not to comment on pending litigation. However, oil industry groups have been quick to say they support the auction, saying it's a step in helping the United States meet its energy challenges.


Related links

Most recent Utah stories

Related topics

Lori Prichard


    Get informative articles and interesting stories delivered to your inbox weekly. Subscribe to the Trending 5.
    By subscribing, you acknowledge and agree to's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

    KSL Weather Forecast