US Cancels Gas, Oil Leases Near Utah Parks

Administration moves to drilling in environmentally sensitive areas
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 4, 2009 4:50 PM CST
Tanker trucks kick up dust near where petroglyphs adorn rock walls Wednesday, April 30, 2008, in Nine Mile Canyon northeast of Wellington, Utah.    (AP Photo/Douglas C. Pizac)
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(Newser) – The Obama administration is scrapping the sales of oil and gas leases on areas of federally protected land spanning 130,000 acres in Utah, Bloomberg reports. “Those are American iconic treasures we need to make sure are being protected,” Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said today, adding that the leases can easily be nullified because the transactions were still pending from a December auction.

Environmentalists lauded the administration for sending a clear signal on the administration’s priorities: “What's significant here is you really do have Salazar taking a very critical first step toward restoring some sort of balance to the management of public lands," an attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council said. "We can have energy security without sacrificing the West's wild places."