Uintah County commissioners admit finally release minutes of secret meeting

Yesterday’s news that Uintah County commissioners admitted to breaking the law by holding an illegal, secret meeting to discuss oil shale has reverberated across the Western Slope. In a victory for open, honest government, the commissioners will release the minutes from the closed-door meeting they held with oil shale lobbyists in Vernal, Utah on March 27.

The Uintah County commissioners hosted the meeting to discuss the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Oil Shale and Tar Sands Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement with county commissioners from surrounding counties in Utah, Colorado and Wyoming. Also in attendance were representatives from Utah Governor Herbert’s office and lobbyists from the oil shale industry.

Prior to the meeting, Uintah County posted a notice on its website. The notice described the meeting as “a special closed session” where “pending or reasonably imminent litigation” would be discussed. The notice listed no other purpose for the meeting.  Nor did the notice disclose that parties other than “the Board of Commissioners of Uintah County” would attend the meeting. During the meeting, the participants discussed matters other than “pending or reasonably imminent litigation”.

Editorial boards across the region had called on the meeting participants to square themselves with the public and fully release details of the meeting:

After Vernal meeting, county commissioners from the counties in attendance all passed similar resolutions criticizing the BLM’s land management policies pertaining to oil shale. As part of yesterday’s announcement, Uintah County commissioners have said they will rescind a resolution passed after the meeting that criticized the Bureau of Land Management’s approach to oil shale. Garfield County commissioners also attended the meeting. They should follow the lead of their counterparts in Utah and rescind their resolution as well.

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