Plans Finalized to Open Up Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante to Drilling, Mining, and Cattle-Grazing

Martin Kuprianowicz |
Once protected lands in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument have now been opened up for oil drilling, coal mining, and cattle grazing. Photo: Earth.com

Plans have been finalized by the Trump administration today, Thursday, Feb. 6, allowing energy drilling, cattle grazing, and mining on nearly one million acres of land in Southern Utah that once belong to Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. This land includes Bears Ears, which has been subject to heated controversy in recent years. These companies are now one step closer to having full access to the land for industrial purposes.

The New York Times reports that approximately 861,974 acres of land will allow oil, gas, coal, and cattle companies to lease mines and wells on once protected lands in Utah’s Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. The lands became protected during the Clinton Administration in the mid-90s, however, since then, they have been downsized drastically.

December 2017 was the largest rollback of public lands protection in United States history. Grand-Staircase Escalante National Monument’s acreage was cut almost in half, and nearly a million acres (roughly 85% of its original size) were removed as protected from Bears Ears, NPR News reports. Both decisions were enforced by the Trump administration in 2017.

Trump administration officials are calling Thursday’s move a “win for the Utah economy.” However, not everyone stands on his side with this recent decision as environmentalists remain in fierce opposition to the opening up of once protected land to these companies calling the plans, “atrocious, and entirely predictable,” according to Sharon Buccino, senior director for lands at the Natural Resources Defense Council.


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25 thoughts on “Plans Finalized to Open Up Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante to Drilling, Mining, and Cattle-Grazing

  1. This idea is the worst thing Donald Trump can do as a president and citizen of the United States .
    This alone should be the reason to vote Democratic in the next presidential election.
    He is destroying pristine land and polluting the air for profit,period! He does not care one tiny bit about the future of humanity or that the world we live in is dying because of big oil destroying the environment for money. Vote him out of office.

  2. The world isn’t dying. It’s a lot bigger and resilient than you imagine. It’s survived cataclysms far worse than you’ve ever seen, and the impact of these sites in Utah is negligible. And these ‘pristine lands’ were taken by federal edict, so they can be ‘untaken’ the same way. Ask the people of Utah what they think about this issue. You might be surprised. As for the future of humanity, try to keep the hyperbole in check. If you’ve ever spent time in just the Western US, you’ll notice it’s huge, and the US is a very small part of a very large planet. Air quality in all but a few parts of the world is better than it’s been since the beginning of the industrial era. There’s less poverty worldwide than at any time in history. And ‘big oil’ gives you everything you have and enjoy, including the power to run the chairlifts, heat the lodges, get you to the ski area, clear the roads that you drive on to the ski area or power the planes that you fly in to the ski area, grow the food you eat at the ski area, and produce the alcohol you drink at the lodge. Oh yeah, and make the skis, poles, boots, bindings, etc, you ski with.

    1. Hey Dave, do you live in the west? Those places are special to a lot of people and not just for $ but you wouldn’t understand that. There are very few places left untrammeled and some people would like to preserve what we have. You need to ski some deep pow bud (like we do in the west)
      And maybe you should garden your own food , drive a biodiesel truck and tour in the backcountry, or you ……………………………… take a lap beater

      1. Matter of fact, I’ve lived in the West probably a lot longer than you’ve been alive, and I’ve skied, xc skied, run, biked, Jeeped, backpacked, and hiked in Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, Arizona, and California. So yeah, I think I understand a bit about the region. I’m comfortable on the bumps, in powder, in the trees, and telemarking, so yeah, I can ski. I live a pretty ecologically sound lifestyle and I would suspect I impact the environment less than you do. As for the idea that ‘there are very few places left untrammeled,’ maybe it’s you who need to get out more. I’ve been in plenty of places where I’ve been the only human being in fifty miles, and on very few of my pack trips have I ever seen or heard anybody. On most of my xc ski trips the only tracks were mine and the person with me. I agree that the West is special to a lot of people, me included, but I also understand that it’s special to various people for various reasons, not just yours or mine.

        1. The old “a lot longer than you’ve been alive” card eh?
          I am not here to argue about who has done what more.
          We as a people have only 1 boat (earth) and we need to take care of it. And drilling in national monuments is not the way , oh yah and southern utah is known for the great grazing!

          1. Oil had done amazing and astonishing job for us duh…but monopolising our voices and standing still in time to continue to milk this Cash cow is stagnating and manipulating our economy. It’s pure greed and disregards the rights of those who want to move forward. One would have to be a moron to ignore this oiligarchy. It’s our turn now
            It’s only fair. The oil way pollutes disturbs nature too drastically. And stagnates our intellectual vastness. Greedy, selfish tyrannical bullies have been in control long enough

          2. Uh yeah you did play that card. Along with saying your more experienced via xc skiing and hiking (sounds hardcore) than a stranger on the internet, of which you have absolutely no clue .
            Assumptions make an ass out of you .
            Look at the other responses here , the writing is on the wall. I’d offer a ski off but you already told me how much more experienced/older you are and I wouldn’t want you to break a hip. So take another xc lap and think about what Edward abbey said”the love of wilderness is more than a hunger for what is always beyond reach, it is also an Expression of loyalty to the earth, the only home we shall ever know, the only paradise we ever need, if only we had eyes to see”.

    2. Dave you seem to have no understanding of the ecological or environmental impact this will cause to the Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bear Ears. The damage will not recover for 1000’s of years after the mineral hogs move out. Oils seepage and mining tailings will runoff or seep slowly through the sandstone for generations to come. The surface damage will not go away [rigs, piles of tailings, mining waste, etc.].

  3. Hi Dave , I don’t drink alcohol, the food I eat is grown and harvested using tractors burning biodiesel.
    The snowcat that grooms the the snow is now all electric. Lots of ski area’s get their power from wind and solar and hydroelectric energy . Lots of ski Boot companies use recycled plastic, trees clean the air then make great cores for skis , I use a pair of ski poles that I got in lost and found 20 years ago , bamboo is now being used for ski poles. So at least try to reduce your impact on the environment and your dependence on big oil. Beer companies are using alternative energy sources as well.
    Donald Trumps only environmental policy is to reverse everything Barack Obama and Bill Clinton put into place .

  4. If our country were moving forward toward non-fossil fuel energy sources, there would be no discussion about destroying a national, natural landmark. I am continually shocked that we, the USA, are not leading the world in solar or wind energy. Any personal energy for arguing that fossil fuels give us everything we have should be directed toward arguing that we need to be a leader in wind and solar energy sources. Anyone supporting the idea of using these areas for drilling and grazing, needs to visit these sites. The experience is profound. The sites are extremely rare in their natural beauty and uniqueness. They should NOT be destroyed in any way! Period.

      1. Hey Gerry or is it jerry ?
        Maybe geriatric? At the very least your antiquated way of thinking.
        Fossil fuels are also going to be in extinct in the future, a true conservative would….conserve

    1. Madeline, what are you doing about it?

      How many indigenous trees have you planted? How many dumpers have you prosecuted? What have you done to preserve your land? What have you done to ensure everyday Americans are empowered to be self-sufficient, free from the abrogation of government? What proactive and positive policies and programs have you promoted, promulgated, passed into law? Remember, good law empowers the poor, it doesn’t get in their ways.

      I assume you’re capable, but also assume you’ve done nothing more than conduct an armchair war.

  5. Trump will be sure to put a price tag on everything that is precious to this country. No concern that some things have greater value than money. Destructive.

  6. All of you need to invest some time looking into the real motives, and amount of land the US Feds took, when establishing this particular National Monument. While you’re at it, look into other land fiascos involving the political class, particularly Harry Reid.

    There’s a lot more to this story than this horribly brief piece. But you can be assured the game was and is all about forcibly defining winners and losers. There was very little altruism exercised when Bill Clinton created this National Monument.

  7. Bill Clinton declared grand Staircase-Escalante as a national monument in 1996 .
    Barack Obama added Bears ears to the National monument in 2016 . Just to clarify, many people opposed it , mainly oil and gas companies who have only one thing in mind , native Americans were in favor of the National monument being created to protect the land from exploitation.
    Protecting wild land and the animals And nature should be everyone’s priority.
    Donald Trump is a functional illiterate and has no idea how the real world works. He inherited 50 million dollars and lost every single dollar so he borrowed at least a billion dollars from banks all over the world and sued when the banks wanted their money back.
    How can a person be so greedy and yet criticize the actions of former presidents who put the nations best interests ahead of their own interests.
    Donald Trump has been and always will be the most selfish person. He has no interest in making the world we live in a better place . He only does thing’s to benefit himself . He has weaponized the presidency and will continue to make the world a little more f****d up and the future harder to deal with.

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