Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar Withdraws Oil and Gas Leases in Utah
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today withdrew 77 contested BLM oil and gas leases citing a need to review environmental considerations and consultation with other agencies as well as their proximity to national treasures. Below are excerpts from Wednesday’s teleconference on the decision.
Topic: Secretary Salazar says the 77 leases were withdrawn to insure proper consultation with affected agencies and for environmental review.
"With respect to these 77 parcels we want to make sure that the process, including the national park consultation and other environmental reviews are complete. And it may be that, out of these 130,000, there is a portion of it or maybe a very large part of it that actually ends up being subjected to a new lease sale. "
Topic: Secretary Salazar says he will seek balance in use of the public’s natural resources and that oil and gas will continue to be part of America’s energy portfolio.
"There has to be a balance. We know that we depend on the resources that we extract from our lands for a great part of our energy portfolio for this nation. We provide about a third of our oil and gas, natural gas energy from our public lands that powers America’s economy. We provide about 50 percent of the coal that is used in America. My view is that we will continue to use those resources as part of our energy portfolio as we open up avenues to the new energy frontier that we are creating and will create in the years ahead. But as we move forward the conventional resources that we have used, oil, gas and coal, will continue to be part of that portfolio. "
Topic: The area of the leases included Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Parks, Dinosaur National Monument, and Nine Mile Canyon. Secretary Salazar said the nation’s treasures must be protected.
"When we think about the proximity of the Arches National Park, The Canyonlands National Parks, Dinosaur National Monument and Nine-mile Canyon, that those are American iconic treasures that we need to make sure are being protected. And so we have identified this area as one of those high priority areas that we were able to take a hard look at and make a decision. "
Topic: Secretary Salazar repeated his charge from the President to reform the Department of the Interior on behalf of the American People.
"I have been charged by President Obama to clean up the Department of Interior. We have some wonderful employees out of the 67,000 employees who are here. You know 99.9 percent of them are great people and they do a great job. But the policy positions of the department over the last eight years have really been driven out of the White House and we are looking at many of the decisions that were made. And my charge from President Obama in the Department of Interior is to move forward to bring about the change that is required and to implement a reform agenda. And we will do that together as a team working closely with the President and working closely with the members of Congress and at the end of the day working to do our very best on behalf of the American people. "