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Major Win: Obama Administration Scraps Controversial Utah Lease Sales

Posted on: February 5th, 2009 by Jason Clement

 

Interior Secretary Ken Sa

President Barack Obama and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. (Photo: AP)

"I believe, as President Obama does, that we need to responsibly develop our oil and gas supplies to help us reduce our dependence on foreign oil, but we must do so in a thoughtful and balanced way."

Those are the words of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar given yesterday in a statement that was heard around the preservation world.

In what will likely be the first of many high-profile reversals of the Bush administration's approach to energy exploration, the government is scrapping the issuance of 77 lease parcels on federal land for oil and gas drilling in Utah's red rock country. The announcement is a major win for Nine Mile Canyon and the thousands of Native American rock art images that cover the canyon’s wall.

"In the last weeks in office, the Bush administration rushed ahead to sell oil and gas leases near some of our nation's most precious landscapes in Utah," Salazar said. "We will take time and a fresh look at these 77 parcels to see if they are appropriate for oil and gas development."

Since December 2008, the National Trust for Historic Preservation has been a voice in a coalition of conservation and preservation organizations fighting leases - which are valued at $6 million - on more than 110,000 acres of Utah public land. On January 17, the group received its first major victory in the new year when Judge Ricardo M. Urbina of the U.S. District Court granted a temporary restraining order preventing the Bureau of Land Management from moving forward with the leases.

Nine Mile Canyon contains the nation's greatest density of ancient rock art, which is threatened by clouds of dust and corrosive chemicals created by the heavy industrial truck traffic associated with oil and gas development.

"Secretary Salazar’s decision sends a strong message about the Obama administration’s approach to preserving America’s public lands," said Richard Moe, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, in a press release put out yesterday by the Natural Resources Defense Council. "Today’s action ensures that the damage being inflicted on cultural resources near Utah’s Nine Mile Canyon - often called the ‘world’s longest art gallery’ because of the density of ancient rock art panels there - will not be exacerbated by additional oil and gas leases. This is a great decision, and indicates that Secretary Salazar and President Obama take very seriously their responsibility as stewards of our public lands."

Learn more about the National Trust’s efforts to protect Nine Mile Canyon, and check out the full text of an excellent article in today’s Washington Post.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Jason Clement

Jason Clement

Jason Lloyd Clement is the director of community outreach at the National Trust, which is really just a fancy way of saying he’s a professional place lover. For him, any day that involves a bike, a camera, and a gritty historic neighborhood is basically the best day ever.

The Stimulus Plan Straight Up

Posted on: February 3rd, 2009 by Jason Clement 1 Comment

 

Something

Want someone to tell it like it is? Check out our new webpage dedicated to tracking the stimulus plan.

If you turn on the TV right now, you're likely to hear about one of three things: 1) Former Senator Tom Daschle withdrawing his nomination to head the Department of Health and Human Services, 2) House Republicans and their laundry list of complaints over the Senate's stimulus package, or 3) President Barack Obama commenting on Jessica Simpson's weight during a Super Bowl Sunday interview with Matt Lauer.

Tomorrow, the graphics and the story lineups will change, but one thing will remain certain: the freight train of news generated by President Obama and the many people and ideas that he has brought to Washington won't be slowing down anytime soon.

If you're like me though, you really don't care about who snubbed whom on the Hill or who didn't pay their taxes. What matters are those sick-to-your-stomach headlines about who got laid off where today. Forget the he-said-she-said game; when are we going to see real relief?

If you feel the same way, you'll be happy to know that the National Trust has launched a new tracking and analysis webpage dedicated to the stimulus plan and the many hurdles it must clear before landing with thud on the Oval Office desk.

This is your resource for tracking the plan through the wiles of Washington, as well as monitoring how it will impact historic preservation in your neighborhood and across the country. You'll also find a special section for your feedback and ideas, which we hope you'll all use.

So join (and bookmark) us today as we continue to track what matters most. We promise it'll be Jessica Simpson-free.

Check it Out: The Stimulus Plan Straight Up

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Jason Clement

Jason Clement

Jason Lloyd Clement is the director of community outreach at the National Trust, which is really just a fancy way of saying he’s a professional place lover. For him, any day that involves a bike, a camera, and a gritty historic neighborhood is basically the best day ever.

How Would You Like More Green to Go Green?

Posted on: January 29th, 2009 by Jason Clement 2 Comments

 

Green

Take our new survey to indicate which green projects – from buying new appliances to repainting – you would most likely complete if stronger tax incentives were in place.

I watch a lot of really dumb stuff on TV.

How dumb? Chances are, if a show involves a) dancing, b) following the life of someone who shouldn't be famous, or c) someone who shouldn't be famous learning how to dance, I can probably give you an episode-by-episode summary.

Apart from CNN (an obsession that I've already fessed up to on this blog), the only other deviations from this formula are the many DIY home improvement programs that I flood my DVR with.

A couple of weeks ago, I caught a show focused on greening a house that was, by all accounts, an energy-consuming monster. Everything had to go, and by the time the seemingly overly-caffeinated crew was ready for the big reveal, the house was - from the roof down to the lawn - a shining portrait of eco-friendly perfection.

Though I don't remember all of the bells and whistles (sometimes I get distracted by my nearby computer and, therefore, blogs about people who shouldn't be famous), these stuck with me: a solar power system, furniture made from reclaimed lumber, cork office flooring, Earth-friendly quartz countertops, toilets that use water recycled from roof runoff, and synthetic turf for the yard.

When it was all over and the owners stopped jumping up and down and crying like Ed McMahon was at the front door, I had two thoughts: 1) a synthetic lawn sounds like a one-way ticket to rug burn, and 2) how much did all of this cost?

As a homeowner, this is a dilemma that I find myself in all the time, usually in the aisles of my neighborhood Home Depot. "Do I spend extra on the fancy light bulbs knowing that I'll save down the road, or do I buy the dinosaurs knowing that I'll have more coins in my pocket when I leave today?"

Sadly, given today's tough economy, I assume that I'm not alone in this boat. This doesn't mean that Mother Nature isn't worth it or cutting my carbon footprint isn't important to me. It's just that I have a bottom line and, when the belt needs to get tightened, things innocently fall by the wayside.

This is precisely why the National Trust for Historic Preservation is on a mission on Capitol Hill. Realizing that it takes some green to actually go green, we have proposed that the federal Nonbusiness Energy Property Credit – which currently allows taxpayers a 10% credit capped at $500 for energy-saving products – be significantly expanded for owners of historic and older homes to 20% with an annual maximum limit of $5,000.

However, as we work our idea through Washington, we need your help in informing the process. Take a minute today to participate in our new survey, How Green Could You Be? And when you're done, leave a comment with your thoughts on becoming more eco-friendly in an anything-but-friendly economy.

And as for me, no more blogs about TV. Promise.

Take the Poll: How Green Could You Be?

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Jason Clement

Jason Clement

Jason Lloyd Clement is the director of community outreach at the National Trust, which is really just a fancy way of saying he’s a professional place lover. For him, any day that involves a bike, a camera, and a gritty historic neighborhood is basically the best day ever.

Meet Preservation's Faces & Read About Their Places

Posted on: January 23rd, 2009 by Jason Clement

 

On Tuesday while I was watching President Obama write the opening lines of a new chapter in our history via CNN, a way out-of-left-field thought streaked across my mind: what is Candy Crowley going to do tomorrow when all of this is over? And what about Paul Begala, Donna Brazile and that lady with the really blonde hair? Will I ever see them again?

Like many folks out there, this election cycle has taken my obsession with CNN (and the talking heads on it) to an entirely new and unprecedented level. Whether I was at home on the couch or at the gym on the treadmill, Candy, Paul, Donna and the Blonde Lady walked me through the entire process via months of split screens, sidebars and roundtables. Together, we went from the primaries, through the conventions, into the general election, past the transition and right up to the top steps of the U.S. Capitol.

And just as I started to get lost in that and reminisce about the night Paul and Donna got into it over the North Carolina primary returns, I was interrupted by that signature CNN election drum riff (you know, the scary music they play when they announce results) and a shiny new graphic that read, "The First 100 Days."

It was, by all accounts, the official welcome sign for the very next part of the story - the juicy part when nominations are confirmed, staff are chosen, and real decisions are finally, finally made.

With the world watching his every move (and Candy telling us all about it), the coming months are going to be fascinating as President Obama has his first real opportunities to show us exactly what kind of change he has in mind. But it's not just an important time for him; it's a critical moment for us as preservationists to make the case that what we do not only saves old stuff, but simultaneously stimulates the economy, creates jobs, protects the environment and preserves our nation's identity.

Our Faces in Preservation series proves just that. Running right along side of our policy platform and stimulus package, these are the real stories of the movers and shakers (some of whom are pictured above) in our field who are setting the tone and making a difference. And if anyone needs proof that preservation has longer legs than CNN can give the election, they should look no further than the story of Montana's Bridge Lady, the Advocate for Acoma, New Orleans' Soldier of Jazz and the many other pioneers we’ve spotlighted over the past few weeks.

So, before you just sit back and enjoy the show, take a moment to read (and then share!) these unique preservation stories. This is, after all, our chance to lead by example.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Jason Clement

Jason Clement

Jason Lloyd Clement is the director of community outreach at the National Trust, which is really just a fancy way of saying he’s a professional place lover. For him, any day that involves a bike, a camera, and a gritty historic neighborhood is basically the best day ever.

A Victory for Nine Mile Canyon’s Rock Art

Posted on: January 23rd, 2009 by Jason Clement

 

Art should be revered, which is why we all know the unspoken rules when it comes to museums.

No loud talking because you should be thinking. Don't get too close because you'll probably get beeped at. No refreshments because Dali wouldn't approve of slurping. And of course, keep your hands to yourself because, well, you know how it goes: you break it, you...

But what about those masterpieces that are found in our nation's backyard rather than in its National Gallery? How do we protect relics from the past that - rather than gum chewing and flash photography - face growing threats from industrial development and the dust-stirring truck traffic that it creates?

Pictured above, Utah's Nine Mile Canyon and the region surrounding it contains the nation's greatest density of ancient rock art, with tens of thousands of prehistoric images already documented and many more yet to be discovered. Unfortunately, due to ongoing oil and gas lease sales, the fate of these irreplaceable cultural resources was largely uncertain in the final months of 2008.

However, with the new year has come a new victory for what is also known as the world's longest art gallery.

On January 17, 2009, Judge Ricardo M. Urbina of the U.S. District Court granted a temporary restraining order that prevents the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) from moving forward with leases on more than 110,000 acres of federal land in Utah, including land near Nine Mile Canyon. The decision comes as a result of a lawsuit filed in December 2008 by a coalition of conservation and preservation organizations, which includes the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, the Wilderness Society, and Earthjustice.

In the ruling, Judge Urbina found that the conservation groups "have shown a likelihood of success on the merits" and that the "'development of domestic energy resources' … is far outweighed by the public interest in avoiding irreparable damage to public lands and the environment." The merits of the case will be heard later in 2009. Until that time, BLM is prohibited from cashing the checks issued for the contested acres of Utah.

As is often the case in preservation, protecting Nine Mile Canyon is an ongoing project. We invite you to stay tuned over the coming months as we continue to be a watchful eye and a strong voice for the region's prehistoric masterpieces. And in the mean time, check out our previous blog posts on Nine Mile Canyon to read more about this story as it developed, and visit PreservationNation for additional resources and information.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Jason Clement

Jason Clement

Jason Lloyd Clement is the director of community outreach at the National Trust, which is really just a fancy way of saying he’s a professional place lover. For him, any day that involves a bike, a camera, and a gritty historic neighborhood is basically the best day ever.