Controversial plan to drill near Moab postponed

A controversial Bureau of Land Management plan to offer oil and gas leases on a parcel in the shadows of Arches National Park near Moab, Utah, has been scrapped for the time being, the agency announced Tuesday.

The Spanish Valley parcel, which sits near a number of residential neighborhoods and is close to the city’s golf course, was planned to be offered as part of a Dec. 19 oil and gas lease sale. But when the plan was announced, Grand County residents and officials cried foul, citing a conflict with county ordinances.

Namely, a potion of the parcel is characterized as split estate, whereby surface ownership is private and subsurface mineral ownership is federal. It was also the county’s contention that part of parcel infringed on privately-owned land in the area.

The BLM “will defer the Spanish Valley parcel near Moab from further consideration, pending more in-depth conversations with Grand County,” the agency said in a press release.

The controversial plan has drawn the ire of many stakeholders, including the National Park Service, as the expanded boundaries included in the planned Dec. 19 lease sale are near three naturally spectacular parks — Arches, Canyonlands and Dinosaur national monuments.

The Park Service is hoping the BLM will at the very least delay the planned lease sale, citing a lack of sufficient opportunity to comment on the plan. The BLM has no plans to delay the sale.


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