Tension Between Obama and Greens over Drilling in Swell

Utah environmentalists experience cognitive dissonance after the Obama administration signals its intention to open portions of the San Rafael Swell to oil and gas drilling. 

Reports The New York Times:

“We were very surprised and disappointed to see this turn of events,” said Steve Bloch, legal director for the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance. “It’s a step backwards. To see a place like the San Rafael Swell be put up on the chopping block makes no sense.”

On Monday, the Utah group, along with several other conservation organizations, filed a formal protest with the bureau, asking that it withdraw 55 of the proposed leases. The groups claimed the bureau had not sufficiently weighed the environmental consequences of opening parts of the Swell for drilling.

Bureau officials say that recent policy changes intended to slow the leasing process now ensure that tracts of land, like those within the Swell, are carefully examined before drilling is allowed. And they have disputed assertions that they are appeasing energy companies, which have been critical of the administration for being too restrictive.