MichaelAnthony

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This is worth the read..... what should we or can we do?

https://www.thedrive.com/news/34239...trails-in-moab-might-soon-be-ruled-by-big-oil


Your Favorite Off-Roading Trails in Moab Might Soon Be Ruled by Big Oil

How's that even legal? The Mineral Leasing Act of 1920, for starters.

JUNE 21, 2020

The brown-and-orange landscape that is Moab, Utah stands as every off-roader's dreamland. Jeep enthusiasts and other four-wheelers flock to America's West to tackle obstacles like Hell's Revenge in their terrain-conquering trucks, painting the 5,000-person town as some sort of utopia. It's been that way for over 50 years, but like all good things in 2020, Moab as it's known might soon come to an end thanks to the oil-and-gas industry.

Oh, and the Mineral Leasing Act of 1920. That's the legislation that makes it possible for companies like Prairie Hills Oil and Gas to use parcels of public land for drilling purposes. North Dakota-based lawyer Craig Larson looks to be at the front of this charge, as The New Yorker explains his proposal to lease a chunk of territory between Arches and Canyonlands National Park.

Larson and Prairie Hills are tied together as the latter is headquartered in a home co-owned by the lawyer in Big Lake, Minnesota, about 40 miles northwest of Minneapolis, the story says.

The land acquisition process is outdated, to say the least. Under the Mineral Leasing Act of 1920, anyone can nominate a piece of public land for gas and oil development—even anonymously. It's free to do so and following a review by the Bureau of Land Management, the parcel can then be sent to a lease auction where the highest bidder is awarded usage rights.

While Prairie Hills nominated the piece of land—which is going to auction in September—anyone who offers up the most cash can take charge of it.

Perhaps the most staggering piece of info is just how cheap a company can walk out with a swath of public land. The minimum competitive bid is marked at two dollars per acre, which is actually a realistic going price in places like Moab. The lease then has a term of 10 years, of which the first five carry an annual renting fee of $1.50. That fee is bumped up to $2 for the term's second half, meaning a 100-acre purchase would result in a payment of $520 to the Bureau of Land Management.

If the company uses the land for oil and gas drilling, then it must also pay a 12.5 percent royalty on production to the government. It is possible that a firm could simply lock-in a lease agreement and leave the land undeveloped, though Prairie Hills and Larson are tight-lipped about their plans.

The effect this could have on Moab and surrounding areas is clear. Anytime you drill into the earth, it disrupts the existing ecosystem. This damages the environment, first and foremost, and Moab's is one that's known for its great natural beauty. Clear skies provide one of North America's greatest views of the Milky Way, which isn't likely to be helped by burning petroleum.

In turn, this could hamper the town's tourist industry which has already taken a hit due to the pandemic. Nature junkies, whether they be hikers or off-roaders, could be turned away by the divisive resource-harvesting practices. Not to mention the locals, many of which are Native and have long voiced their anguish against Big Oil.

Frustratingly, this effort to commandeer land that's long been enjoyed by hobbyists nationwide is everything but illegal. Time will tell if it is indeed turned over to Prairie Hills Oil and Gas, or another firm, though it will seemingly take a dedicated team of conservationists to put a stop to it.

The New Yorker article is worth a read in full. Let us know your thoughts on the matter in the comments.





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MichaelAnthony

MichaelAnthony

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I was both shocked and amazed... shocked that there is such an outdated allowance to do that on BLM land and amazed that the Government would allow private business to do this
 

Maverick909

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we could try and i hope everyone does. but they can easily out bid anything we do without trying
 

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I think the best bet lies with the locals and some outside assistance of various forms. Locals might be interested in possible economic infusion but, like other regions, that can come and go. If this comes to pass, their best bet would be to take advantage of both revenue streams. I worry about the landscape though.
 

RubiSc0tt

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Why can't OHV groups get together and outbid oil companies if its so cheap ? Protect the OHV use on this land for a long time that way
This is exactly why.:
we could try and i hope everyone does. but they can easily out bid anything we do without trying
Between Liability and the overall negative general public opinion of OHV's (thanks mostly to Anti-access groups and their propaganda), OHV groups would not win. Sorry, but the amount of money we would need to secure something from Oil companies would not be generated by the minority of users we have; even if you take 4x4's, ATV's, Dirtbikes, Mountain bikers, equestrians, Hikers, and throw in the aftermarket for all of those groups, as well as any OEM's willing to jump on board (Jeep, Toyota, Ford, and several ATV/ Dirt Bike manufacturers would probably toss some coin in, but they're also feeling the effects of the global recession) it's still not going to add up: Mostly because people are insanely cheap and can't get over their own "beliefs" (vs. Ideals, look it up), and so they will never work together. Even if they could, the Oil industry has been raking in billions for decades now- that $$$ strength would likely squash anything we could come up with
.
The best bet would be some sort of legal action via organizations like the ARRA, SEMASAN, Blue Ribbon Coalition, to get them designated as part of a Federal National Historic site or something with similar protections, etc- and while I have every bit of faith that they would use every resource and do everything in their power to strike a bargain for OHV access, it's hard to tell if Oil companies would be open to that kind of thing.

This is where politics comes into it. Write your Senators and congress people, as well as the ones in the Moab Area, and tell them you oppose this. Include things like Tourism $$$ that stand to be lost (i.e. "I plan to go to Moab to enjoy the outdoors, I spend $X on average with food, fuel, lodging, etc). Mention the environmental impact of drilling for oil and gas (mentioned above, in the article). Find their info here. Maybe check up on the ARRA, SEMASAN, and Blue Ribbon Coalition websites.

My own Editorial and experience (Mods delete if not allowed):
This is the danger when you elect officials who care only about money, and business profit. I live in NY and we've seen all of our local public trails get closed, thanks to both Anti-access groups and expansion of businesses/ housing. We have very little recourse in the way of lobbying as well, mainly because BOTH parties are more or less locked out by hefty donations from the Nature Conservancy and The Sierra Club. I grew up riding ATV's and know people who sat on the NYS Trails Council: They couldn't even agree to work together for a common interest (Mountain bikers hate the OHV's, Equestrians don't like the wheeled vehicles, and the Hikers hate everyone)- it's a decades old rivalry that shows no signs of thawing and has only resulted in the disappearance of our public forest roads (since the 80's, as far back as I can remember) and the robbing of any funding for NYS trail system by the powers that be, devoting it to the "general fund". it's so convoluted and time consuming that it's very hard for anyone who doesn't make it their full time job to pursue and actually be effective. This is why In the Northeast, Private land access (off road parks, etc) has pretty much become the standard, but that's at risk as well when it comes to deals like this- because land owners (not lessees) stand to profit a great amount by taking a deal from an industry like oil and gas (or logging, which we've seen here)- and if the land owner isn't an OHV enthusiast, or at least an ally, it's pretty hard to turn down that kind of cash.

If anyone has any additional info on these practices, or any concerted efforts to preserve the area a la the "Save the Hammers" efforts from a few years back, I'd love to hear it. We have to do something- or we stand to lose everything.
 

RubiSc0tt

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Exactly. This is how it starts. I try not to tip my hand too much; I lean pretty left in terms of political views but it's a dirty game played by both: The right wants to build and or drill everything, and the left wants everything designated "Forever Wild", which, on my last check of the actual classification of that: Means even Hikers aren't supposed to be there.
 

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Sounds like a GoFundMe cause if ever there was one....
 

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