Monday, November 17, 2008

Drilling Lease Authorized 1 Mile from Delicate Arch

Bush's last minute oil-lease fire sale comes to Utah.

Plans recently announced by the Bush administration to sell oil- and gas-drilling leases on parcels near Utah's national parks could place drilling operations within a 45-minute hike from the state's most famous red-rock icon: Delicate Arch.

An examination of the parcels, superimposing low-resolution government graphics onto Google Earth maps, shows that in one case drilling parcels bordering Arches National Park are just 1.3 miles from the arch.

''If you're standing at Delicate Arch, like thousands of people do every year, and you're looking through the arch, you could see drill pads on the hillside behind it. That's how ridiculous this proposed lease sale is," said Franklin Seal, a spokesman for the environmental group Wildland CPR, which carried out the parcel examination with Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance.

The planned Dec. 19 auction of oil and gas parcels alongside or within view of Arches and Canyonlands national parks as well as Dinosaur National Monument has brought criticism by environmentalists and the National Park Service.

''We find it shocking and disturbing," said Cordell Roy, the chief Park Service administrator in Utah. ''They added 51,000 acres of tracts near Arches, Dinosaur and Canyonlands without telling us about it. That's 40 tracts within 4 miles of these parks."
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