Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance attorney Stephen Bloch disputes Rep. Rob Bishop's recent assertion that the Obama administration's opposition to new energy development in Utah and other western states is causing gas prices to spike. Notes Bloch: "Fact of the matter is, there are tens of millions of acres of BLM managed lands across the west that are currently under lease, but not in development by oil and gas companies. In Utah alone, there are 4.99 million acres of BLM land in Utah under lease -- but only 1.09 million acres in production (per BLM FY 09 figures)."
In Utah, 2010 drilling rates (975 wells started or "spudded") in Utah were higher than any year between 2001-2005.
Also, the number of drill rigs in Utah and other western states has continued to rise. As of last Friday there were 31 rigs operating in Utah; at this time in 2010 there were 25 rigs -- and in July of 2009 there were 16.
All the while, Secretary Salazar has worked to bring balance back to public lands management including reforming the oil and gas leasing process, issuing a Secretarial Order which established the BLM’s "Wild Lands" policy, and promoting renewable energy projects to wean our nation off fossil fuels.
At their core, these policies recognize that it is possible to have a strong domestic energy program, while at the same time protecting our nation’s wilderness landscapes.