Newscasts

PNS Daily Newscast - November 14, 2018. 


Hate Crimes on the rise in the United States. Also on the Wednesday rundown: a big hearing in Denver on a proposed rollback of methane limits; plus find out about "Give to the Max Day."

Daily Newscasts

Lawsuit Challenges Desolation Canyon Drilling

PHOTO: Gas wells could be located on the far cliffs in this photo and in the "bench" area beneath them under Gasco's Desolation Canyon project. Courtesy Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance.
PHOTO: Gas wells could be located on the far cliffs in this photo and in the "bench" area beneath them under Gasco's Desolation Canyon project. Courtesy Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance.
January 24, 2013

SALT LAKE CITY - Utah's Desolation Canyon wouldn't be quite so desolate with almost 1,300 oil and gas wells drilled in the area.

The latest volley in the battle to scale down a project by Gasco, a Colorado-based energy developer, is a lawsuit by conservation groups. They're asking a federal judge to throw out the Environmental Impact Statement for the project as inadequate and illegal.

Steve Bloch, general counsel for the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA), says it's another chapter in the struggle to balance the state's natural resources and natural beauty.

"This project, like so many in Utah, does not have to be an all-or-nothing proposal. Finding this kind of middle ground that allows for development but protects the special places really seems like a much smarter way to proceed."

Last year, the project was pared down from 1,500 wells to 1,300, which Interior Secretary Ken Salazar described as "making substantial improvements to protect air and water resources." Now that Salazar is resigning, Bloch says the plaintiffs are hopeful an agreement could be reached with his successor. In the meantime, they are pursuing the court action.

Bloch says conservationists still support an alternate proposal that allows about 1,100 wells on nearby public land but keeps them out of the proposed scenic Desolation Canyon wilderness area, prized for its river rafting and hiking.

"It's just this remarkably rugged and remote landscape - thousand-foot-high cliffs. So, there's a lot of solitude and opportunities for people to explore this area without seeing or hearing human development."

Gasco has 130 wells in the area already, but not near Desolation Canyon.

The lawsuit also mentions poor air quality and groundwater concerns in northeastern Utah from the ongoing development boom.

In addition to SUWA, plaintiffs in the suit are the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Sierra Club and The Wilderness Society.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - UT