Home to five national parks, several holistic American Indian preservations and a wealth of natural gas resources, Utah has been changed dramatically by the gas industry. However, the landscape stands to change even further as a debate heats up over the gas industry's use of public lands for private gain; sometimes at the expense of those trying to enjoy the national parks.
With its past oil drilling permits on the brink of expiration, the Anadarko Petroleum Corporation is seeking to partner with the United States Bureau of Land Management to reopen previous oil wells and build new ones in the midst of the pristine riverbanks of Utah's Greater Natural Buttes region. This move has worried environmental groups like The Wilderness Alliance that hope to keep wells away from areas that canoers and hikers frequent. Anadarko recognizes these concerns, and hopes to work with these groups to find a middle ground.
Despite the desire to work with preservationists, Anadarko has a lot riding on developing oil and gas in the region. 3,700 wells, six trillion cubic feet of gas reserves and billions to be paid in royalties to the Utah and federal governments stands to make this project a priority for the oil industry. Environmentalists also understand the need for natural gas, but neither organization can agree on which public lands should be made available for drilling.
Recently, 1,298 new wells have been approved for natural gas company Gasco to began production in Utah's Desolation Canyon. The Canyon is one of the largest roadless wilderness areas in the Lower 48, and the decision to develop there is disappointing many preservationists.
"I think what we have shown here and in a number of other places in Utah is that we can find that kind of middle ground, that there are compromises that can be reached that protect the special places, while still allowing for a vibrant, for a robust level of natural gas and oil development." - Stephen Block, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance
"It is a shining model and a shining example of what we need to try to accomplish across the board in the industry. Let's work collaboratively with the environmental community and the other stakeholders, the local governments, the regulators as well, to meet everybody's need, because bringing the important natural gas resource to America is extremely important." - Brad Miller, Anadarko Petroleum Corporation.
1. What is natural gas? What is it used for?
2. What is an environmentalist? What do they do?
1. Do you think there is a conflict between preserving the environment and solving America's energy woes?
2. Should private companies be allowed to use public land to make a profit?
3. What can environmentalists and oil companies do to work together to solve the energy crisis as well as continue the preservation effort in America's national parks?