Bush-Era Drilling Lease Sales Voided In Utah

  • Playlist
  • Download
  • Embed
    <iframe src="http://www.npr.org/player/embed/100272799/100272786" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has canceled scores of oil and gas leases sold by the Bush administration in Utah's red rock country. The sales would have brought $6 million to the government, in addition to royalties on any oil or gas production.


And the new interior secretary yesterday has canceled some deals. That would be dozens of oil and gas leases in Utah that the Bush administration sold to energy companies just before Mr. Bush left office.

NPR's Elizabeth Shogren has more.

Unidentified Man: Two-ten, you want to bid at 210. Are you all in? You are all done at 200.

(Soundbite of gavel)

ELIZABETH SHOGREN: Just before Christmas, the Bush administration sold a 116 parcels in Southern Utah. Environmental groups challenged 77 of them in court. And yesterday, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced he was rejecting those controversial bids.

Representative KEN SALAZAR (Democrat, Colorado; Interior Secretary): President Obama and I believe strongly that we need to responsibly develop our oil and gas supplies to help reduce our dependence on foreign oil. But we need to make sure that we protect our signature landscapes and cultural resources for future generations.

SHOGREN: The canceled parcels cover 130,000 acres. Some are near arches in Canyonland National Parks. Kathleen Sagama(ph) represents the Independent Petroleum Association of America.

Ms. KATHLEEN SAGAMA (Independent Petroleum Association of America): We're wondering why the administration is implementing policies that will limit economic development in the West, decrease our energy security and make addressing climate change even more difficult.

SHOGREN: Sharon Buccino, a lawyer for Natural Resources Defense Council applauded the decision.

Ms. SHARON BUCCINO (Lawyer, Natural Resources Defense Council): The beauty and the solitude that you gather from this wild lands is irreplaceable, and it's simply not worth the miniscule amount of oil and gas there.

SHOGREN: Salazar left open the possibility that these parcels may be offered for release again after the Obama administration assesses them.

Elizabeth Shogren, NPR News, Washington.

Copyright © 2009 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.

Salazar Cancels Utah Oil And Gas Leases

Interior Department Secretary Ken Salazar said Wednesday that he has canceled the leases for oil and gas drilling on dozens of parcels of land near Utah's famed canyon country.

Salazar said the Bush administration rushed to sell oil and gas leases near Arches and Canyonlands national parks, Dinosaur National Monument and Nine Mile Canyon as President Bush prepared to leave office.

The decision affects 77 parcels of public land near national parks, monuments and sensitive landscapes that were put up for bid in December. The parcels total about 130,225 acres.

Salazar said the parcels did not get the environmental reviews appropriate for sensitive landscapes. He said other last-minute Bush administration actions are under review.

"We need to responsibly develop our oil and gas supplies to help us reduce our dependence on foreign oil, but we must do so in a thoughtful and balanced way that allows us to protect our signature landscapes and cultural resources — in places like Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Parks, Dinosaur National Monument and Nine Mile Canyon — for future generations," Salazar said.

The canceled oil and gas leases are worth about $6 million. Bidders will get their money back. Salazar said some of the parcels may be offered for leasing in the future after the appropriate reviews are conducted.

Several groups had filed court papers challenging the leases last month. A federal judge granted a motion for a temporary restraining order on the 77 parcels on Jan. 17.



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

NPR thanks our sponsors

Become an NPR sponsor

Support comes from