Adverse impacts to some of southern Utah's most spectacular scenery, including portions of Arches and Canyonlands national parks, were among the reasons Interior Secretary Ken Salazar cancelled 77 oil and gas leases issued to drillers in December 2008. Photo courtesy of NPS.
Bureau of Land Management supervisors did not pressure employees to finish resource management plans (RMPs) ahead of a controversial December 2008 oil and gas lease sale in Utah, according to a report by the Interior Department's inspector general that has stoked new criticism of the Obama administration's cancellation of 77 leases sold during the auction.
But BLM contributed to the perception that the lease sale lacked proper environmental reviews by failing to consult with the National Park Service about tracts to be leased near picturesque federal lands and neglecting to remove the parcels after park officials objected to their sale, according to the 10-page report.
But the Inspector General stopped short of saying BLM's actions violated any federal law.
"This matter is being referred to you for your review and action as deemed appropriate," John Dupuy, assistant inspector general for investigations wrote in a Dec. 29, 2009, memo to BLM Director Bob Abbey.
The report was made public only this week at the urging of Utah officials who are suing the Interior Department to try to reinstate the revoked leases.