Oct 8, 2009 4:43 PM by Associated Press
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar says he will permit oil and gas drilling on 17 of the 77 Utah land parcels that were hurriedly readied for leasing in the waning days of the Bush administration.
Salazar also said at a news conference Thursday that leasing will be prohibited on eight parcels. The fate of the remaining 52 is unclear as government officials seek more information before making a final determination.
The parcels are all in eastern or northeastern Utah, and much the land borders national parks and other areas prized for their vistas and their recreational and cultural amenities.
The Bush administration's decision to lease the land drew fire from critics who said drilling might harm the nearby parks and other protected lands.