The Bureau of Land Management held an online auction Tuesday for oil and gas leases in southeastern Utah. Conservation groups and Native Americans protested drilling in places that are also rich with cultural meaning.
The auction included the option to drill on more than 51,000 acres near two national monuments along the Utah-Colorado border: Hovenweep and Canyons of the Ancients. Some parcels are adjacent to Canyonlands National Park.
“To see that the work of these tribes, the cultural significance of these areas is not considered in this leasing is really unfortunate,” said Len Necefer, a Navajo who founded the Denver company, Natives Outdoors.
Necefer spoke at a protest outside the BLM’s Salt Lake City offices. So did Mark Maryboy, a Navajo and former San Juan County commissioner who said energy development has a long history of harming Native Americans in the region.
He called new drilling in the area “… a bad idea. Bad for the environment, bad for all living organisms on Mother Earth.”
The BLM said the auction was in keeping with the Administration’s America First Energy Plan, which includes the development of fossil fuels and coal, as well as renewable energy. The auction raised $1.56 million. All 43 parcels were sold.
This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, Yellowstone Public Radio in Montana, KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.