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Proposed oil and gas leasing along Kolob Terrace Rd - public comment period

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Morgan, Jan 29, 2017.

  1. Morgan


    Park City, UT
    The link below will give you access to the Environmental Impact Assessment for these proposed June 2017 Oil and Gas Lease Sales and details on sending public comments. The public comment period is currently open until February 10. These parcels, in particular the ones along Kolob terrace road should not be considered for oil and gas leasing. Please submit your public comments!!
  2. Ted


    Zion NP 8-16 to 12-16
    Received a copy of the following notice.


    U.S. Department of the Interior
    Bureau of Land Management
    On Thursday,February 2, 2017at6:30 pm, Brian Tritle, Field Manager of the BLM St. George Field Office, will be in Virgin to discuss the Environmental Assessment process currently underway for 2 tracts of land bordering Virgin, Utah, that are subject to lease for oil and gas exploration. There are a lot of questions and rumors swirling around these potential leases. The intent of the presentation is to provide a forum for local residents to ask questions and obtain information directly from the BLM.

    This session is open to anyone in the Zion Canyon area. Brian will:

    • explain the process underway, and
    • explain how to submit written comments to the BLM during the open comment period that closes February 10, 2017. The BLM will only accept written comments.
    This presentation will be followed by:
    • a question and answer session with Brian
    (questions only please, no oral comments will be allowed).

    The presentation will take place at:
    Virgin Community Center
    aka Heritage Town Square
    114 S. Mill Street
    Virgin, Utah
    Thursday, February 2nd at 6:30 pm

    If you have questions about the BLM's Environmental Assessment process for these 2 tracts of land, please attend.
    Jenny and Rapterman like this.
  3. robert kyslovsky

    robert kyslovsky

    These decisions will not be made based on data...scientific data has been gagged and in many cases is now being deleted. Participating in the Women's march was great, protesting the ban this weekend powerful, and of course, get your boots on, everyone should be walking with the scientists in March...imagine squashing science? The science community is freaking out, as well they ought to be, lifetimes of work are being denied and deleted. Without science we have...alternative facts. Alternative facts are lies. Canyoneers seek truth, I think. Do we?
    Jenny, Deagol, townsend and 2 others like this.
  4. Ted


    Zion NP 8-16 to 12-16
    Attended the meeting Thursday evening with about a hundred other people (By my rough count. Chairs were full, standing room only).
    Well run Q&A meeting.

    Please review the EA here:
    The listed e-page also includes a link for filing comments and is also listed here as:
    Attn.: Dave Corry Project Leader
    Re: St George Field Office Oil and Gas Lease Sale
    NEPA Log Number : DOI-BLM-UT-CO30-2017-0010--EA

    I believe that in this current phase it is important for comments to the BLM to point out any deficiencies or missing points of concern associated with the current EA (Environmental Assessment). Please remember that current decision making is based on the BLM 1999 regional management plan and significant regional changes have occurred since its inception (local water demand, ground water availability, water quality, air quality, and traffic, etc.). Another note of concern relates to EA chapter 2.2.1 as water separated from the production stream may be disposed of by underground injection and/or evaporation pools.

    Here's a pic I took of a map showing the two plots in question just north of Virgin which straddle the K.T Road. (There's another up by Leeds)

    Comments due by February 10, 2017!
  5. Ted


    Zion NP 8-16 to 12-16
    February 6, 2017
    Attn.: Dave Corry Project Leader
    Re: St George Field Office Oil and Gas Lease Sale
    NEPA Log Number: DOI-BLM-UT-CO30-2017-0010—EA

    Dear Mr. Corry,

    I attended the question and answer session that took place in Virgin, UT on February 2, 2017. Thank you for providing the public with the opportunity to directly interface with agency representatives.

    After my review of the Environmental Assessment as currently posted on BLM’s website I would like to call attention to the following items and register comments.

    2.2.1 Development Scenario for Analysis of Indirect and Cumulative Impacts
    Produced Water Handling
    “Water is separated out of the production stream and can be temporarily stored in the reserve pit for 90 days. Permanent disposal options include discharge to evaporation pits or underground injection.”
    Comment: Reserve pit waste water storage poses a threat to both migratory birds as well as three local species identified within the BLM’s EA as threatened or endangered, and possibly a fourth. Underground injection poses an unidentified threat to local and regional water quality.

    2.3 Alternative B – No Action
    Under the No Action alternative, none of the nominated parcels would be offered for sale.
    Comment: This is the preferred alternative.

    3.3.1 Air Quality, Climate Change, and Greenhouse Gases
    Air Quality Related Values
    “Zion National Park was designated a Class I air quality area in 1977, receiving the highest protection under the Clean Air Act. Both local and distant air pollutant sources affect air quality in Zion NP.”
    Comment: Any threat to the air quality within a National Park requires utmost scrutiny. The value which a National Park brings to local, regional, state and national interests far outweigh those of oil/gas extraction.

    3.3.1 Air Quality, Climate Change, and Greenhouse Gases
    Greenhouse Gases (GHGs) and Climate Change
    “Based primarily on the scientific assessments of the USGCRP, the National Research Council, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, in 2009 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a finding that the changes in our climate caused by elevated concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are reasonably anticipated to endanger the public health and public welfare of current and future generations. In 2015, EPA acknowledged more recent scientific assessments that “highlight the urgency of addressing the rising concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere,” finding that certain groups are especially vulnerable to climate-related effects.”
    Comment: Given current national and global extraction and usage of fossil fuels it seems unnecessary to further contribute to climate change. The safest course is to KEEP IT IN THE GROUND. Lands with Wilderness Characteristics
    “The potential development of the lease would likely cause indirect impacts to wilderness characteristics.”
    Comment: No impact to wilderness characteristics are acceptable. Recreation
    “The Flying Monkey mountain bike trail is within parcels UT-0517-042 and UT-0517-043. This is an expert only, double black diamond, downhill specific trail. Individuals who enjoy extreme, high speed riding use this trail and would not be expected to have their recreation experience diminished by oil and gas development in the vicinity of this trail, as their experiences are not dependent on pristine natural settings.”
    Comment: The experience may not be entirely “dependent on pristine natural settings” yet the fact remains that the experience is absolutely impacted by artificial constructs such as oil/gas related pipe lines, roads, buildings, and evaporation pits.

    Visual Resources (I thru IV)
    “Class II: The objective of this class is to retain the existing character of the landscape. The level of change to the characteristic landscape should be low.
    Class III: The objective of this class is to partially retain the existing character of the landscape. The level of change to the characteristic landscape should be moderate.
    The proposed lease parcels would encompass VRM management classes II and III.
    Parcel UT0517-042 VRM II 1501 acres VRM III: 100 acres
    Parcel UT0517-043 VRM II: 1224 VRM III: 28
    Parcel UT0517-044 VRM I: 3.3 acres VRM III: 1884 acres”
    Comment: VRM III will be an eyesore, particularly Parcel UT0517-044 at 1884 class III acres, and particularly for those of us familiar with current landscapes.

    Thank you for your consideration,
    Ted G. Doughty Jr.
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2017
    Deagol, hank moon, Mike and 3 others like this.
  6. Ram


    From Coalition of American Canyoneers

    Re: proposed BLM Oil/Gas drilling leases in Washington Co. UT

    The CAC board has studied this issue and found no reason to assume it will have a direct impact on canyoneering activities. However, given the proximity of the proposed lease parcels to canyon terrain and camping areas in and around ZION, we imagine there could be indirect impacts, and that this issue is likely to be of interest to our members. For those wishing to submit comments to the BLM, use the top link below and note that comments must be submitted by 4:30 pm (MT) on Thursday, March 9. Links to more information on the topic and to the BLM's public comment page are found below. In composing your comments, please note the following:

    - The proposed land parcels intersect significant tributaries of the Virgin River, including Ash Creek and North Creek.

    - Any development of the parcels will increase traffic and heavy equipment traffic along Hwy 9 and the lower Kolob Terrace Rd.

    Please like and share this post, thank you.…/eplanning/……/blm-proposes-oil-drilling-leases-ne……/Fluid_Lease_Parcels_Overview_Ma…

    LikeShow more reactions
  7. hank moon

    hank moon lovely ligatures

    When making comments to the BLM or other agencies, please remember that those reading the comments are real people, who may be sympathetic to your viewpoint regardless of any perceived governmental stance on the issue at hand. Also, from the BLM:

    Please note that the most useful comments are those that identify substantive issues relevant to the proposed action or contain new technical or scientific information. Comments that contain only opinions or preferences will not receive a formal response, but may be considered in the BLM decision-making process.
    Deagol and ScottM like this.
  8. Deagol

    Deagol too many hobbies

    wow, there is a lot to digest there in that document !!

    Thanks to all who have taken the time to read this and offer well-written comments.
  9. Nan


    Just completed my comment before the deadline tomorrow, (3/9 at 4:30 pm). As the new activist that I've become, thought I'd remind others. I heard something on KUER that over 40,000 comments have been received, most hopefully objecting.
  10. Ram



    BLM yanks oil and gas leases proposed near Zion after complaints from residents
    By BRIAN MAFFLY | The Salt Lake Tribune [​IMG]
    First Published Jun 02 2017 12:00PM • Last Updated Jun 02 2017 11:39 pm
    Courtesy of Luke Henry, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance. BLM proposes oil and gas leases on two parcels along the Kolob Terrace Road overlooking North Creek just west of Zion National Park. These parcels would be only the public lands in Washington County leased for energy development.

    After getting an earful from locals and state officials about possible drilling near Zion National Park, the Bureau of Land Management on Friday reversed course on proposed oil and gas leases on 4,730 acres in Washington County and will not offer them for sale — at least for now.

    At the last minute, Gov. Gary Herbert asked BLM state Director Ed Roberson to "protect these parcels, protect these public lands and not open them for leasing."

    "While I support a diverse economy, these particular sites are not ideal for extraction," Herbert wrote in a May 30 letter, noting Zion has experienced three straight years of double-digit visitation growth. "Their economy is dependent upon recreation and tourism."

    The BLM had previously announced the three parcels — two of which straddle the Kolob Terrace Road on the park's western boundary — would be available for bidding at the agency's June quarterly auction. Under pressure from the National Park Service and local elected officials, the BLM decided in March to re-evaluate leasing in a scenic area where no federal lands are currently under lease and no drilling has occurred in years.

    "The BLM facilitates opportunities for development of energy infrastructure and commercial recreation on our public lands that create jobs and help local communities grow," Roberson said in a statement Friday. "At the same time, based on the environmental review and recognizing the rapid growth of recreational visits and tourism on adjacent public lands, the BLM believes that deferring these parcels for further review is the right decision."

    Roberson's decision adds the three parcels to a long list of sites that industry has "nominated" for leasing, but the BLM has "deferred" before making a final decision. The nomination requests may soon be re-evaluated under the Trump administration, which has prioritized energy development and pledged to lower hurdles to drilling and mining on public lands.

    Conservationists applauded the withdrawal of the Zion leases.

    "We are very pleased BLM listened to the National Park Service and the thousands who submitted comments from across the country," said Cory MacNulty of the National Parks Conservation Association. "The governor and resolutions from local communities show how important Zion is to our quality of life and ability to draw visitors."

    MacNulty said the situation underscores the need for the BLM to update its 1999 St. George resource management plan, which no longer reflects conditions on the ground.

    "Deferring the parcels is the right step, but there needs to be more work done," MacNulty cautioned.

    Meanwhile, the BLM released an auction list of nine parcels covering 14,943 acres in Juab County. Industry may bid on them at the Sept. 14 auction, which is to be held entirely online.

    The upcoming June 13 auction will feature 20 parcels covering 23,733 acres administered by the BLM's Richfield office. Environmental groups unsuccessfully appealed half those parcels, arguing they fall within priority habitat for greater sage grouse.

    To protect the ground-nesting bird, the BLM had imposed "no surface occupancy" stipulations on these parcels, meaning that their minerals have to be tapped from horizontal wells drilled from neighboring lands. Accordingly, it dismissed the environmentalists' appeal, but the stipulations drew a protest from Utah, which argued that the restrictions put the minerals out of reach.

    But state officials were not eager to see leasing just outside Zion, where public lands help support a thriving tourist economy.

    "Visitors come from around the world to see the lush landscape surrounded by towering iconic sandstone cliffs. The preservation of this unique experience is important to surrounding communities," Herbert wrote in his letter, which marked a departure from a pro-energy approach more typical of Utah's elected leaders.

    The Zion parcels, along with nine others that the BLM deferred, were nominated by St. George businessman Jeff Reber, who has said his company Utah Exploration and Drilling LLC is not interested developing the land for its oil and gas, but for water.

    However, the area is close to groundwater sources Washington County taps for drinking water, according to concerns raised by the County Commission and the water district. The Springdale and Toquerville town councils and Washington County Commission, which commonly supports developing natural resources, passed resolutions opposing the leasing.

    Two of the proposed leases are just north of Virgin on a road used by people visiting the northern highlands of Zion. State officials plan road improvements and recreational amenities along State Route 9 between Virgin and Springdale, at the park's southern entrance.

    "If these leases move forward, it will create barriers to the development of much-needed infrastructure," Herbert wrote the BLM. "Current and future investors would be rightly concerned about a threat of industrial infrastructure that would diminish the value of [these recreational] ventures."

    Brian Maffly covers public lands for The Salt Lake Tribune. Brian Maffly can be reached at or 801-257-8713.

    Twitter: @brianmaffly
    hlscowboy and Brian in SLC like this.
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