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PBS Newshour Profiles the Use of Public Lands for Private Energy Development

PBS NewsHour profiles ways in which oil drilling companies are working with environmentalists to extract natural gas while not ruining tourism and the environment.
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Recently PBS Newshour profiled the issue of private gas drilling on public lands as part of a series the network is doing to study changes in U.S. energy production. The seven-minute segment looks at, in this case, maneuverings between Anadarko Petroleum Corp. and the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance when it comes to balancing between environmental protection and the needs of the U.S. consumer.

In this case the environmental group wanted to preserve the pristine feeling along the banks of the White River, and group representative Stephen Bloch detailed his attempts to get Anadarko to drill out of sight, at least, of pleasure rafters on the river.

“I think what we have shown here and in a number of other places in Utah is that we can find that kind of middle ground, that there are compromises that can be reached that protect the special places, while still allowing for a vibrant, for a robust level of natural gas and oil development,” Bloch told PBS’s show POV, which produced the piece.

The segment seems to illustrate the goodwill that was preserved between the conglomerate and the environmentalists, but it only tangentially mentions the Indian tribes of the area, and not by name. It does lead one to wonder what input tribes had, and what their reaction is to these developments.

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Pressure is on for tribes, as new oil and gas activity beckons large companies. In April, tribal leaders met with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in Denver to discuss, among other topics, issues related to booming oil and gas exploration on tribal lands, as well as some of the accompanying problems.

Even for Bloch, the battle is far from over. He pointed out to PBS the BLM’s recent approval of 1,298 new wells for Gasco, another natural gas company, in Desolation Canyon, an even more pristine wilderness.

PBS has aired a number of stories of late about tribes and the environment. In July the network hosted a panel of Native leaders discussing climate change and adaptation. It also highlighted the drop in salmon population and resultant threat to the way of life of the Swinomish.

This latest segment aired on Thursday August 9 and can be seen in full on PBS Newshour’s website.