Dispute Over Utah’s Oil Shale Flowers Heads Back to Court | The Salt Lake Tribune

January 3, 2015

By Brian Maffly

Penstemon 1“The 31-year fight over Utah’s beardtongue, rare wildflowers that grow only near the Uinta Basin’s oil shale outcrops, is far from over despite a new conservation plan that state officials say ensures the plants survival should oil shale mining take off.

This week, the Utah Native Plant Society and other conservation groups formally accused the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service of ignoring science and caving to political pressure from oil and gas interests when it withdrew a proposed listing for Graham’s and White River beardtongue, also known as penstemon, under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).”

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Op-ed: Penstemon Agreement Saves More Flowers than ESA Would | The Salt Lake Tribune

By Mike McKee, Mark Raymond, and Darlene Burns

July 11, 2014

“When faced with the prospect of yet another endangered species listing in the Uintah Basin, many would expect that as elected officials tasked with protecting our local community we would take off the proverbial gloves and begin to fight. In the case of the Graham’s beardtongue and White River beardtongue (penstemon species) in Eastern Utah, we along with other stakeholders met this challenge with a proposed conservation agreement that goes above and beyond the protections afforded these flowering plants under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA). Some critics claim that this conservation plan — negotiated between local, state and federal agencies ­— is voluntary and so does not provide “real” protection for these plants. Uintah County wants to be clear that this is incorrect. The agreement is enforceable by law.”

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