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Zion Oil Leases Stir Controversy

Zion Oil Leases Stir Controversy
March 22
11:27 2017

With more than 40,000 public comments submitted on a Bureau of Land Management proposal to lease land near Zion National Park to oil developers, the Park Service is asking its sister agency to defer action on two of three parcels.

Two parcels are within 1.5 miles from the park and park officials say wells, access roads, and production facilities will detract from the scenery, visitor experience, air quality, soundscapes, and dark skies.

The Park Service is also critical of Washington County for not updating its land management plan in nearly 20 years. The county’s population in 1999, when the plan was written, was 90,000; now, it is 155,000.

In 1999, 2.4 million visits to Zion were recorded; last year over four million people visited.

Jeff Reber, the St. George businessman who nominated the parcels for leasing, claims that his company, Utah Exploration and Drilling LLC, is interested in developing the land for its water, not for oil and gas.

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