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Bureau of Land Management to Withdraw Decision to Sell Public Lands in Utah to PacifiCorp
“This is welcome news. It was shocking that BLM wanted to sell 200 acres of public land next to a coal-fired power plant without analyzing the impacts of using the land to support the plant,” said Chris Krupp, Public Lands Guardian for WildEarth Guardians, a Santa Fe, New Mexico-based conservation organization. “What BLM needs to evaluate going forward is whether it makes sense to sell off public land so PacifiCorp can extend the operating life of a coal plant. In 2020, selling public lands to contribute to even greater climate impacts is simply not in the public interest.”
BLM first announced its proposal to sell the land adjacent to the coal-fired Hunter Power Plant in November 2017. PacifiCorp had asked BLM to sell it the parcel in 2015 and identified development of a coal ash storage facility as a potential use for the land. BLM’s November 2108 draft environmental assessment of the proposal analyzed using the parcel as an ash storage facility. But BLM removed that analysis from the final EA, claiming any potential uses of the parcel were “speculative scenarios with a low or uncertain probability of occurring.”
The IBLA was not convinced by BLM’s reason for dropping the analysis from its final assessment. The March 2, 2020 order noted that although development of an ash storage facility was not a certainty, the use of the parcel to support the Hunter Power Plant was, and that BLM could not dismiss all potential uses as speculative. Ultimately, IBLA concluded, there was sufficient evidence BLM had failed to adequately assess the environmental impacts of developing the parcel to halt the sale.