Arches National Park, Landscape & Oil

The ground was covered with two or three inches of snow this morning, yet it was all but gone by early afternoon. I went for a hike around the back end of the Windows area of the park and took a few pictures.

Afterward I went to the Arches Book Company where I bought a cup of coffee and a newspaper from Judy and sat down to read. 

In today's New York Times Timothy Egan writes that the Bush administration is leaving an obnoxious present under the juniper tree for these very landscapes this Christmas. 

On Election Day, writes Egan, the Bush administration announced it would open 360,000 acres of public land in Utah to oil and gas leasing, including about 100,000 acres near Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, and Dinosaur National Monument.

As with the $700 billion bailout that Bush insisted had to be given to the very bankers, insurance companies and other tassel-loafed failures who got us into the economic meltdown, the president now wants every dead-ender in the energy business to have one last treat.

Solitude and ageless stone may not be commodities as easily quantified as a couple of thousand barrels of oil. But to the American inheritance, they are the equivalent of those first-edition Audubon books and presidential portraits in the White House.

The administration never even consulted with the parks before announcing they would have oil and gas rigs on their borders. 

They ultimately backed off the worst of this, adds Egan, but they are still scheduled to sell oil and gas leases for 150,000 acres in Utah this coming Friday. Oh and they've promised to make operators paint the pumps and derricks red, to camouflage them against pictures like this. 

I've been reading Edward Abbey's Desert Solitaire the last few days. My God he must be doing somersaults and bearcrawls in his grave...

South Window Arch, Arches National Park

The Windows Section of the park

North and South Window Arches, eroded into the same sandstone fin.