SITLA is entrusted with leasing and developing state trust lands for the benefit of primarily the K-12 public education system. SITLA is constitutionally mandated to generate revenue from trust lands to build and grow permanent endowments for the beneficiaries. This money, which represents 2 percent of the total school budget, is mainly received from companies involved in fossil fuel exploration and development.
A seven-member unelected board with no direct public accountability and ties to either fossil fuel interests or real estate development is responsible for the management of leases to these trust lands.
The public has many concerns about SITLA. These include individual trustees’ conflict of interest, which can (or has) led to decisions which may benefit board members or their colleagues. Secondly, SITLA’s policy promoting oil shale and tar sand strip mining has failed. While millions of dollars have been spent, not one barrel of oil has been realized and pristine lands, which are the legacy for future generations, have been devastated. These companies include: US Oil Sands (a Canadian company), Red Leaf Resources, Enefit Energy and MCW Energy. Every one of these projects has been unprofitable and led to unreclaimed and harmed land, bankruptcies and busted communities.
Additionally, while the funds from these leases do go to benefit the education of our youth, they also sabotage our childrens futures through contributing to air pollution, pollution of the water table and climate change.
The SITLA Board of Trustees meets once a month. The meetings are held at School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration, 675 East 500 South, 6th Floor, Salt Lake City.
— Jill Merrit and Raphael Cordray
Elders Rising/Utah Tar Sands Resistance