Utah Youth Rise Against Oil and Gas Leasing
Young people urge Governor Herbert to oppose the BLM’s March Oil and Gas Sale
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — On Monday, Utah youth delivered a letter with over 1,500 signatures to Governor Herbert’s office, urging him to request the deferral of all parcels in the Utah Bureau of Land Management’s March oil and gas lease sale. Over 50 community members joined young leaders as they held a sit-in, expressed fears for their future, and shared how the state’s poor air quality has impacted their health. The action comes ten days after over 500 young Utahns, and millions of teens around the world, went on strike for climate action.
Utah’s young climate organizers targeted Governor Herbert to keep him accountable to the resolution he signed last year that acknowledges the threats climate change poses to Utah.
“Governor Herbert has failed my generation,” said Mishka Banuri, a senior at West High. “By acknowledging climate change but not following through with substantive action to dramatically reduce carbon emissions, the Governor is knowingly sacrificing our future.”
On March 25-26, the Utah BLM is auctioning 217,576 acres of public lands to the oil and gas industry — the largest lease sale since the Bush administration. The BLM has listened to governors in the past. Governor Herbert successfully requested the deferral of parcels near Dinosaur National Monument in 2017, and in more recent months, governors of New Mexico and Colorado have achieved limitations on leasing.
Three students initially met with the Governor’s Deputy Chief of Staff, Mike Mower, on March 19 to deliver the letter and express their demands. They were disappointed with Mower’s response.
“Mower told us he attended the youth climate strike, but only wanted to focus on the students who drove away in their cars, turning climate change into an individual problem,” said Eliza Van Dyk, Westminster student and organizer with Wasatch Rising Tide. “Climate change will not be solved on an individual basis, we need to change our entire energy system and we need elected officials to help, not hinder that transformation.”
During the sit-in, students spoke with Mower again and asked him to take immediate climate action. He said the state would continue their “all of the above” energy strategy.
“Science shows we must drastically reduce carbon emissions in the next 11 years to prevent climate catastrophe. The state’s all of the above energy strategy is unethical and irresponsible.” said Brooke Larsen, coordinator of Uplift Climate. “My generation needs a rapid transition to the renewable energy economy. We will continue to rise to defend our future.”
The action was organized with the support of the following organizations: Utah Youth for Environmental Solutions, Utah Chapter Sierra Club, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, Uplift, and Wasatch Rising Tide.
UPDATE: Yesterday, Utah youth led a sit-in at Governor Herbert’s office, demanding he take action to defend our future. We delivered a letter with over 1,500 signatures calling on the Governor to request the deferral of all parcels in the Bureau of Land Management’s March oil and gas lease sale. We showed that the people of Utah will keep our leaders accountable and continue to rise for a livable climate, clean air, and protection of wild and sacred lands.
On Tuesday, April 2nd at 6pm MST, Utah youth will have a webinar/conference call to discuss next steps in ongoing actions in protest of the Utah Bureau of Land Management’s mass sale of public lands to the oil and gas industry, a recent court decision that says the BLM must consider climate impacts, and the numerous ways the public can rise with us in defense of our future.
Register here: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_g1j4rCGiTJW1H1eszCbhTg