Utah - Moab MLP

State: Utah
Region: Moab BLM Field Office

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) approved the Moab Master Leasing Plan (MLP) in Decembert 2015 - Utah's first MLP. Master Leasing and Development Plans (“MLPs”) are a key component of BLM’s new oil and gas leasing reforms. They are designed to help the BLM identify, evaluate and resolve conflicts between oil and gas activity and important resource values, such as wilderness and wildlife habitat, across broad geographic landscapes. If developed and implemented properly, MLPs will create greater certainty for industry, since the BLM will have identified and addressed potential resource conflicts prior to the leasing and development stages. This will result in fewer protests from the public, while assuring that measures are in place to protect wildlife habitat, wilderness and other important resources of the public lands.

In October 2017, Secretary Zinke announced that he aims to scrap the MLP process, calling it a burden on energy compaines. Local governments and citizens support the Moab MLP and all the work that has gone into it already, saying it balances energy and recreation intrests. Grand County Council sent a letter to Zinke asking him to uphold the locally-driven plan. More than 28,000 public comments were received and considered in developing the final plan. Since the plan was finalized in 2016, the BLM must continue with the MLP as the law of the land. Other MLPs however, have been set aside, freesing progress on proposed plans and restarting leasing in contested areas.

The draft plan, which covers over 785,000 acres, prohibits development or surface disturbance on almost 500,000 acres. Under the plan, new oil and gas drilling will be prohibited on 145,000 acres of land, while surface occupancy will be restricted on another 306,000 acres. Approximately one-quarter of the planning area already open to leasing will not be affected by the plan. The plan further provides strong protections for the famous Arches and Canyonlands National Parks by closing off mineral leasing and development on adjacent BLM lands, as well as prohibiting future development or surface occupancy at Fisher Towers, Porcupine Rim, Six-Shooter, and Goldbar Canyon.

Under the BLM’s current “preferred alternative,” Labyrinth Canyon and its many stunning side canyons would be targeted for leasing and drilling.  The agency would also give potash development and its staggering water use the green light – with over 42,000 acres of public lands prioritized as “potash processing facility areas,” including sites near Labyrinth Canyon and at the entrance to the Needles and Anticline Overlook roads.

Protecting areas for their natural values not only preserves water quality and wildlife habitat, but it benefits the tourism industry that depends on it. Outdoor recreation is a major revenue source for the State of Utah, contributing $5.8 billion annually to the state economy. Tourism in Utah, bolstered by outdoor recreational opportunities, supports more than 124,000 jobs with visitors spending over $6.5 billion annually.


Click here to view a map of the Moab Master Leasing Plan Area