The Bureau of Land Management is again considering permitting oil and gas exploration on land near the edge of Dinosaur National Monument. This is the last step before actual drilling. The location being considered, not too far from the Green River, is a sensitive wildlife habitat and is in full view from the western side of the park.
“I have visited the proposed oil and gas drill site many times,” said Cody Perry, outreach coordinator for the National Parks Conservation Association. “It’s a sloping mesa a mere 2,000 feet off the western boundary of Dinosaur National Monument. It’s a fragile environment and unmistakable wilderness with wildlife, cultural resources, intense quiet, unconfined, uninterrupted views and solitude.”
A similar, but larger auction of oil and gas leases was proposed in 2017, which we also opposed as it could’ve lead to drilling close to the park boundary. It was eventually halted due to outcry from residents, businesses and even the governor of Utah. As with that project, the new proposal could adversely affect air and water quality, increase noise and light pollution and stick out as an eyesore for visitors who love the pristine wilderness of Dinosaur National Monument.
“The project would not only have a visual impact for visitors, it would contribute to the area’s already high levels of air pollution,” said Steve Markle, vice president of sales and marketing for OARS. “Anyone who has spent time in the Basin in the winter can tell you that poor air quality is a real issue.”
Critics also worry that blasting for a road to the drilling site may damage the area’s famous paleontological resources. The site is less than a mile from Carnegie Fossil Quarry, which is widely regarded as one of the world’s most incredible fossil sites. The spectacular fossilized dinosaur skeletons found at the quarry led Woodrow Wilson to protect the area as a national monument in 1915.
“The BLM itself has recognized this area as Lands with Wilderness characteristics and attached no surface disturbance restrictions to the lease years ago,” Perry said. “To reverse that is senseless. I can’t imagine a worse place to drill.”
BLM is currently accepting public comments on the proposal. If you’d like to see the area around Dinosaur National Monument protected, comments can be submitted here (hit the green “Participate Now” button).
As we’ve seen with past projects, every voice counts. We sincerely hope BLM will withdraw this drilling proposal and choose to protect one of our favorite wilderness areas.
Photo: Proposed area for Dinosaur National Monument drilling – Cody Perry
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article was written by Cari Morgan first appeared on the blog in July 2017 and has since been updated.