BLM could lease lands for energy development within one mile of this popular park, which would create unnecessary risks for visitors, the environment and the local tourism industry
Zion is one of the most-visited national parks in the country, drawing millions of people each year with its jaw-dropping scenic wonders and recreational opportunities. But this spectacular desert park and the bustling tourism industry it provides for local communities will be at risk if we allow oil and gas drilling right at the park’s doorstep.
In January 2017, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) proposed offering leases for oil and gas drilling on lands in southwestern Utah, concluding that energy development on these lands would not cause any significant environmental problems. However, two of the parcels are located within one mile of Zion National Park, near the local gateway community of Virgin, Utah, right next to one of the park’s main entrance roads. If companies are given permission to drill on these parcels, industrial equipment could mar the area’s scenic views, dilute the intensely dark night skies, pollute the region’s water and threaten the world-class resources millions of visitors come to experience and explore each year.
Zion’s breathtaking landscape is not the place for pumpjacks, drill rigs, heavy duty truck traffic or industrial pollutants. Park staff have already raised concerns about the negative effects these leases could have on air quality, natural soundscapes, and threatened and endangered species.
Furthermore, BLM does not need to offer oil and gas leases in this area. Production potential in this region is low, and no wells are currently producing oil or gas in the area. Despite the oil and gas industry holding more than 2 million acres of undeveloped leases on BLM managed land in Utah, new oil and gas wells in Utah reached a 30-year low in 2016.
NPCA takes a “plan first, lease later” approach to oil and gas leasing near our national parks. We have encouraged the BLM to work collaboratively with the National Park Service and community and public land stakeholders to determine other locations where oil and gas leasing is appropriate. Leases next to Zion are clearly not compatible with this world-renowned landscape, its small tourism-driven businesses, its rural gateway communities or its millions of admirers.
More Than 10,000 Took Action to Protect Zion from Oil and Gas
National park advocates nationwide contacted the Bureau of Land Management in opposition to an oil and gas lease proposal just outside Zion National Park.
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