Printed letters, August 23, 2012
Sen. Michael Bennet has drafted a proposed bill for public comment regarding the future protection from oil and gas exploration on public lands within the Thompson Divide Area.
This unique and pristine area is part of over 220,000 acres, which represents the largest roadless area in the state. It includes headwater streams, healthy forests, abundant wildlife and grazing leases for local ranchers.
Over the last several years Bennet has met with a wide and diverse group of stakeholders and interested parties including ranchers, business owners, recreationalists, industry representatives, citizens and elected officials. All have been encouraging the senator to find a middle ground solution to protect these public lands for future generations.
The primary industries in this portion of the state include tourism, recreation and wildlife pursuits. In addition, long-time ranchers with grazing permits on these lands are providing local beef we can count on.
Contrary to the boom-and-bust cycle that the Western Slope has experienced with the oil and gas industry, which has raised havoc with our local economies, protecting these limited public lands from future oil and gas exploration will enhance and promote a sustainable economy.
The broad support for Sen. Bennet’s efforts reaches far beyond environmental groups and includes Gunnison County commissioners, Garfield County commissioners, Pitkin County commissioners and other elected officials throughout the Roaring Fork Valley.
The future of the Western Slope’s economy lies not in speculative drilling in an area that has seen very little activity, but in a diverse economy representing all sectors of industry. No one’s property rights will be violated, as this draft bill only speaks to future permits on public lands.
From the orchards and vineyards of Palisade to oil and gas development in western Garfield County to recreation, ranching and tourism in the Roaring Fork Valley, Sen. Bennet’s draft legislation is visionary in recognizing the diversity of the Western Slope and ensuring it remains vibrant and economically viable.
Pitkin County Commissioner
Sen. Bennet’s initiatives are anti-energy, anti-jobs
Sen. Michael Bennet’s latest anti-job, anti-energy initiative places roughly 200,000 acres worth of American natural resources permanently off limits from development. Strangely, he is bringing this up during a recession, in the midst of a national discussion over how to become more energy independent and amid rising fuel prices.
The senator’s proposed legislation concerning Thompson Divide is one more example of the backward thinking that has kept the recession going, unemployment high and growth at a virtual standstill for years. Removing forever the possibility for energy companies to acquire leases in the Thompson Divide area and bullying the rightful owners of existing leases into “voluntarily donating” or abandoning them is a cop-out to an environmental movement that cares little for social and economic costs.
Contrary to his statement that this bill is to be a “starting point for discussions on how to address concerns about possible oil and gas development in the Thompson Divide area,” the reality is this legislation shows that Bennet has no interest in discussing development. He has a single goal on this, one he shares with his former state energy liaison and current executive director of the environmentalist group, Thompson Divide Coalition, Zane Kessler. That goal is to prevent economic development from ever occurring on more than 200,000 acres in the heart of western Colorado’s energy country.
As the senator representing a state with an unemployment rate of over 8 percent, perhaps Bennet would better spend his time trying to find ways to actually grow the economy rather than cozying up with his buddies in the environmentalist movement to find new and creative ways to constrain it.
GARCO ballot measure aims to protect local open lands
The campaign to protect our ranchlands, rivers and recreation economy has officially begun.
The Garfield County commissioners voted unanimously to place a sales tax measure on the November ballot to fund a much-needed open-land program for Garfield County. We thank the three commissioners for their thoughtful and detailed work on this issue.
After three years of meetings and more meetings, the local citizens group, The Garfield Legacy Project and the commissioners forged a proposed program that is unique to Garfield County. The resulting ballot measure (1A), if passed in the Nov. 6 election, creates a quarter-cent sales tax resulting in approximately $2 million annually for the protection of local open lands.
The program would provide support to our agricultural economy, safeguard our rivers and streams and enhance the recreation and trails we enjoy. Now is the time to take a forward approach to preserving our ranching heritage and open lands. Our growing tourism economy depends upon it.
We are very excited to talk about the program and to provide factual resources and information on the ballot measure.To find out more about the Garfield Legacy Project, go to our website garfieldlegacy.org.
Garfield Legacy Project