I want to thank the Grand County Council for supporting the Utah BLM’s efforts to develop the Moab Master Leasing Plan and the proposal that offers a balance between protecting our recreation assets and future mineral development.
Our public lands are incredibly important for our local economy. In fact, nearly 47 percent of all local employment is supported by travel, tourism and recreation. And when you look at the actual facts, tourism and recreation provided 18 percent of all local tax revenue in 2013. That’s nearly double the tax revenue generated by drilling and mining.
Yes, we need oil, gas and potash, but there is no reason to risk damaging the recreation economy, which could happen if we let out-of-state oil and gas companies drill right on top of our trails and Jeep roads and impact our world class viewsheds.
Our recreation infrastructure is providing an incredible return for us right now. Ultimately we may be able to increase the resource extraction portion of our economy through additional oil and gas and potash. But it is important to remember that for potash, BLM economists estimate that we must attract investors to the tune of nearly $3 billion. The MLP provides a large potash leasing area, in addition to the many existing potash leases that have not yet been developed. Why haven’t these areas been developed? Why isn’t anyone interested in investing billions in potash in Grand County today? Neither the council nor the MLP are the problem. The problem is the worldwide price for potash. We cannot blame our council for “billions in lost revenue” without recognizing the current price of potash or the massive investment that would be needed.
For these reasons, I applaud both the county and city for wanting to see a balanced approach to development on our public lands. The MLP provides for this approach and will allow us to make the most of our public lands over the long run.