Misinformation at the Outdoor Retailers Convention

by Kathleen Sgamma, President on January 30, 2018 - 9:24am

The Outdoor Retailer convention, a major outdoor recreation industry event, was relocated from Salt Lake City to Denver this year because of differences with Utah officials over monument designations and other public lands issues.

Last Wednesday night before the convention opened, Patagonia and a group of environmental organizations led by the Center for American Progress and the Wilderness Society projected countdown clocks on BLM’s Colorado headquarters and Denver’s iconic Civic Center. The clocks began counting down the seconds until President Trump’s proclamation changing the monument boundaries of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante goes into effect, or as the groups claim, when BLM will allow companies to mine and drill “unprotected” lands.

Environmental groups have been using the oil and natural gas industry as the boogey man when it comes to the two reduced national monuments. Grand Staircase-Escalante contains significant coal deposits, but has never been about oil and natural gas. Likewise, while there were some state and federal leases on the very periphery of the Bears Ears monument as designated by President Obama at the end of 2016, the area does not contain major oil and natural gas resources and there are no leases within the new boundaries. And while the proclamation does indeed issue on February 2nd, years of public land use planning will take place in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) before any new actions could possibly take place.

Given that lack of interest, Congressman John Curtis’ (UT-3) bill, H.R. 4532, would codify the new boundaries of the monuments and withdraw all new mineral leasing from the area of the original Bears Ears national monument.

These facts are being ignored as the monuments continue to be used as a political football by the Outdoor Industry Association. Expect the groups’ strong stance against energy development on public lands to make headlines throughout the year. Western Energy Alliance will continue to highlight how our industry makes outdoor recreation and getting people to the public lands we all enjoy possible. 

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