Media Advisory, August 16, 2021

Contact:

Deeda Seed, Center for Biological Diversity, (801) 803-9892, dseed@biologicaldiversity.org

Report to Be Released on Misuse of Public Funds on Utah Fossil Fuel Projects

SALT LAKE CITY— The Utah Clean Infrastructure Coalition will release a report Tuesday showing Utah’s Permanent Community Impact Fund Board has funneled more than $109 million in public money to projects that promote or expand fossil fuel extraction, in violation of the federal Mineral Leasing Act.

The report also documents that basic infrastructure projects in rural communities are going unfunded while Utah leaders use federal lease revenues and royalties to help the fossil fuel industry, including a proposed oil railway and oil refinery.

What: News conference to release “Utah Oil Slick” report. Coalition members will deliver copies of the report to Gov. Spencer Cox’s office and the offices of legislative leaders.

When: Tuesday, Aug. 17, 10:30 a.m. MST

Where: Utah State Capitol, South Steps, 350 State St., Salt Lake City, Utah

Who: Former Salt Lake City mayor and state Rep. Jackie Biskupski and representatives from the Center for Biological Diversity, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, Sierra Club, Rural Utah Project, Utah Physicians for a Health Environment, Utah Tar Sands Resistance, Living Rivers, Utah Environmental Caucus, No Coal In Oakland, No Coal In Richmond and Healthy Environment Alliance of Utah (HEAL Utah)

Background
Oil, gas and coal companies pay the federal government for the right to develop federally owned minerals on public lands and pay royalties for any minerals they extract. Congress intended this money to be used to help rural communities experiencing rapid growth and infrastructure challenges. The influx of new workers and increased drilling and mining take a toll on communities.

Utah is responsible for allocating the money to affected communities. A large portion is managed by the governor-appointed Permanent Community Impact Fund Board, which is composed of six locally elected officials and five representatives of relevant state agencies. A 2020 report from Utah’s Office of the Legislative Auditor General raised serious concerns about the Community Impact Board, including improper funding of economic development projects.

Small towns, cities and special improvement districts in Utah have requested funding for projects that have not yet been funded, including water and sewer services, recreation centers, road improvements and public safety equipment.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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