Dinosaur National Monument
Dinosaur National Monument straddles Colorado and Utah and is renowned for the fossils of dinosaurs that remain embedded in the rocks and canyon walls. The park contains over 800 paleontological sites in total. The park is also home to petroglyphs and pictographs left behind by the Fremont people from over 1,000 years ago.
The park provides a glimpse into geologic history, created by the erosion from the Green and Yampa rivers. These rivers have exposed 23 rock layers that tell the story of the landscape’s evolution from an ancient sea to grassy plains to arid deserts.
Spoiling Park Resources
The monument is embedded in a dynamic rural landscape where oil and gas has long been present. Year after year, the Uinta Basin reports serious air quality issues. In 2019, Uintah County, Utah, received a failing grade from the American Lung Association’s report card measuring the state of the air. Oil and gas operations are the largest source of air and climate pollution in the Uinta Basin, plaguing this once-pristine region with significant air pollution comparable with densely populated cities like Los Angeles and Denver. Elevated levels of ozone pollution endanger public health, causing asthma attacks, cardiovascular disease and premature death. It’s particularly dangerous for vulnerable populations, including children, seniors and people with respiratory conditions.
Despite the well-documented problems with air quality, the administration has accelerated leasing in the Uinta Basin. While a few lease sales close to the park have been temporarily withheld, the BLM has continued to take an aggressive approach of rapidly leasing numerous acres throughout the region to oil and gas companies.
The BLM has a legal duty to analyze and address potential harms to human health and landscapes before leasing. The agency routinely skips this analysis, instead prioritizing the interests of oil and gas companies over public health and environmental protection.
These lease sales, offered by the BLM, violate federal environmental laws and will worsen air quality in a region already laden with harmful levels of ozone pollution.