By Morgan Smith
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
SALT LAKE CITY _ Environmentalists and tribal organizations are protesting a lease sale by the U.S. government that would allow oil and gas companies to develop land considered archaeologically sensitive near a national monument stretching across the Utah-Colorado border that houses sacred tribal sites.
Documents show about 47 square miles (122 square kilometres) of land near Hovenweep National Monument in southeast Utah are being offered during the Bureau of Land Management’s September lease sale.
The sale comes amid an ongoing debate over drilling in states like Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico.
Environmentalists and tribal organizations say drilling on the high desert would damage the prehistoric structures and pollute the air.
Bureau of Land Management spokeswoman Kimberly Finch pointed to leasing guidelines that companies are asked to follow to be environmentally conscious.