But unlike Clinton — who, as a lame-duck second-term president can handle an environmental backlash — his would-be successor Al Gore, who stood at Clinton's shoulder when the Utah national park was created, may have some explaining to do. And as TIME Washington correspondent Dick Thompson points out, he will face even more tests in the future: "In terms of environmental issues, there are lots of things that are higher on the agenda, beginning with global warming, the pivotal environmental issue he will stand or fall on."
WASHINGTON, D.C.: President Clinton's decision to allow exploratory oil drilling in Utah's red-rock country — just one year after he set the land aside as a national park during his re-election campaign — may land him once and for all in the green lobby's dog house. "This is just another stab in the back that has been handed the environmental community," says TIME Denver bureau chief Richard Woodbury. "Combined with the recent debate over logging roads, this situation is bound to aggravate its anger even further."