110,000+ acres up for fossil fuel leases near Utah national parks

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - We've asked before: can oil and gas drilling and outdoor recreation coexist? That question reinvigorated in Moab as lands are up for lease near national parks.

The BLM is considering leasing over 110,000 acres for oil and gas development near Arches and Canyonlands national parks. Arches and Canyonlands are two of Utah's most popular destinations; some of these nominated lease areas come within a mile or so of these national parks. Opponents are worried about the possible disruption of Moab's tourism and outdoor rec economy.

“That kind of development is just antonymical to the protection of dark night skies, clean air, clean water. Nobody is coming to Moab [...] to see the flaring of natural gas or drill rigs,” says Steve Bloch, Legal Director/Attorney for Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance.

"They're all in these areas designated no surface occupancy, meaning that, looking at those federal lands, you don't know they're being developed for oil and natural gas,” explains Kathleen Sgamma, President of Western Energy Alliance.

The BLM will begin taking public comment Thursday on these lands.