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Letter: Time to update federal bonding rates

When the Utah Legislature is forced to delay funding for the Utah Division of Oil, Gas, and Mining, or DOGM, it shows how outdated and weak federal bonding rates on our public lands allow oil and gas companies to abandon their wells, endangering public health and leaving Utahns to foot the bill for cleanup costs. In this case, at least $1 million of our taxpayer dollars.

DOGM deservedly earns criticism for failing to hold the oil and gas industry accountable when they pollute our communities. While this action from Utah legislators could motivate DOGM to improve its practices, it is clear that the issue of low federal bonding rates needs more serious reform. Current bonding rates permit oil and gas companies to pollute Utah lands and waters, with little accountability, while leaving our communities with contaminated drinking water, damaged lands, and massive reclamation cleanup costs.

This is a true crisis and our leaders in Washington, as well as Utah’s congressional delegation, need to make serious policy changes. It is time to update federal bonding rates and put Utahns and our communities ahead of special interests.

Maurena Grossman

Salt Lake City