The Desolation Canyon proposed wilderness is the largest unprotected roadless complex in the lower 48 states and is important to Utah’s desert recreation and tourism, a $4 billion industry that generates approximately $300 million annually in state tax revenue and supports 65,000 jobs. Centered around the Desolation Canyon stretch of the Green River, the area’s spectacular solitude and endless vistas are awe-inspiring. But now this remarkable place is once again in the crosshairs for destruction.
On March 16, the Interior Department issued the Gasco natural gas project final environmental impact statement and took one step closer to approving this massive development project, which would include 215 new wells in the Desolation Canyon proposed wilderness. Incredibly, those 215 wells (only 7 less than the company asked for) would fragment the proposed wilderness 50% more than even Gasco proposed in its initial plans.
Under the BLM’s preferred alternative for this project – Alternative F - the Gasco natural gas development project will degrade wilderness and wild landscapes, further jeopardize the region’s air quality and hurt the state’s tourism. In giving its tentative support for Alterative F, the Interior Department rejected calls by the Environmental Protection Agency and tens of thousands of citizens from across the country to approve an alternative to Gasco’s proposal that would have allowed for significant development while also protecting the Desolation Canyon proposed wilderness and reduced the overall footprint and impact of the project.
Fortunately, there is still time for you to weigh in and tell Secretary Salazar to protect Desolation Canyon! The BLM hasn’t issued its ‘record of decision’ for the Gasco project and can still change its mind about which alternative to adopt. Please take a minute to sign this petition!
Recently, the Bureau of Land Management released the so-called “Gasco final environmental impact statement” and indicated its tentative support for an alternative (Alternative F) that would lead to the completely unnecessary destruction of this wild place. In fact, Alternative F would approve 215 wells in the proposed wilderness area and fragment the area 50% more than even the company asked for. There is a better way!
The final EIS fully analyzed a conservation alternative (Alternative E) that emphasized the use of directional drilling and that would have virtually no impact on the Desolation Canyon proposed wilderness area. Importantly, Alternative E would also allow the company to produce natural gas from the majority of its leases. The Environmental Protection Agency and thousands of citizens from across the country have written to the BLM in support of Alternative E.
Alternative E is clearly the right choice to meet the President’s goal of promoting smart development while protecting our nation’s public health and public lands. Please adopt Alternative E in the record of decision.