BLM auctions drilling rights near Bears Ears

SALT LAKE CITY - The federal Bureau of Land Management auctioned oil and gas rights to over fifty thousand acres in Southeastern Utah, including land near Hovenweek National Monument and bordering the San Juan and Green rivers.

The auction, conducted online with the encouragement of the State of Utah, raised more than $1.5 million and the government will get a percentage of any revenue from oil and gas production from the land.

"The BLM has taken the right approach with this lease sale," wrote Kathleen Clarke, director of the Governor's Public Lands Policy Coordinating Office.

Protesters from Native American Tribes and environmental groups gathered outside of the BLM office in downtown Salt Lake City, saying the auction of temporary leases creates permanent damage to lands they consider sacred.

"It's not surprising that they're proceeding, but it's disrespectful to the American public and also to specific tribes," said Alastair Bitsoi, Communications Coordinator of Utah Dineh Bikeyah.