Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.
The redrock canyon-riddled sandstone badlands of southern Utah’s Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is host to more than one million acres of rugged wild country. Few signs of modern humans can be found. Hiking through these spectacular wildlands, I have experienced the wildness that makes this region a perfect escape from the flurry of city life.
One of the last places in the continental U.S. to be mapped, this magnificent landscape deserves the utmost protection we give to our public lands. But the Bush administration, in its obsession with fossil fuels, wants to slice through the monument with a wide swath of oil and natural gas pipelines and imposing electric transmission lines.
The Department of Energy has released a final environmental impact statement for its West-wide Energy Corridors, which are vast conduits for energy generated from fossil fuels. While energy corridors are necessary, they have no place in our national monuments, wildlife refuges, proposed wilderness areas, or on the edges of our parks.
For our country to advance in its quest for sustainable energy development, we must encourage the production and transmission of renewable energy such as solar, wind and geothermal. But the Bush administration is ignoring this necessity and instead creating these corridors to solidify an energy future based on mining, drilling and polluting – in short, destroying the land we love and polluting the air and water we all need to maintain a high quality of life.
Our work was able to affect some improvements in the final plan, including imposing protective management conditions, moving certain objectionable corridors and clarifying that pipelines cannot be sited without environmental review. However, I don't see how our country can support broken planning that will lead to more dirty power and less protection for our public land heritage.