Printed Letters: November 23, 2016
Extend cancellations to remaining leases
I am grateful the BLM has moved to cancel the 25 leases in the Thompson Divide. That part of the BLM’s plan should be praised, but the cancellations should extend to the remaining leases. The beautiful landscapes that make up the Thompson Divide and the down valley areas that were also illegally leased are equally important.
They both posses very similar value to the people and wildlife that rely upon them, and they both should be protected.
Wildlife that moves around throughout the year in these areas rely on limited interaction with humans. This area has remained healthy ecologically for thousands of years without human development. Fast forward to 2016 and we have the BLM preferring to leave wilderness open to drill. We can have responsible energy development without sacrificing beautiful wildlife diversity, solitude of wilderness and protection of our water.
Some of the best public places to hunt big game in the state are located in areas where the BLM’s plan would validate illegally issued leases. Drilling in these areas will diminish or eliminate that cherished use of public land. It will severely damage the outdoor recreation economy by driving hunters away, and for those who don’t want to hunt anywhere else, they may find oil rigs in meadows where elk used to gather just at the break of dawn.
I remember the last oil field boom, roads moving through once roadless hills, fields and valleys with trucks bustling through day and night. You couldn’t find peace and quiet in those parts anymore — no more good hunting, no more good places to hike or camp. Everything changed.
I urge the BLM to cancel the 40 remaining oil and gas leases down valley from the Thompson Divide. It doesn’t matter to me that there are a few wells on those leases. I’ve seen firsthand, living just outside of Rifle, the effects of oil and gas development. You could smell the fumes in the air while hiking in the high country, which is the last thing you want to smell up there.
Additionally, the leases threaten our water supply from Beaver Creek, which is an important water supply for the city of Rifle. The reclamation from oil and gas does not replace what we lose when wild land is developed. Animals and plants don’t always rebound to their once vibrant state. Please move to cancel the remaining leases, along with 25 in the Thompson Divide
Trump should be ethically accountable to country
President-elect Trump should finalize his business associations in the next month. Then, when he takes office, he should be held accountable ethically to the United States of America and not his businesses.
We also need federal laws about hiring relatives; otherwise this old man is going to be using his children to run the White House. Using your children for a younger viewpoint is good, but hiring them and putting them in advisory positions, and possibly jobs, is not the way government should be run. There are nepotism laws in local, state and federal governments that need to be upheld. And if they aren’t at the federal level, then we need a new law.
Federal mineral owners fleeced in cancelled leases
Friday’s front page article describing the victory of a Carbondale rancher and his beloved environmental community over resource development in western Colorado was interesting to say the least.
I often find that the best way to enjoy news articles is to scan the headline and entry paragraphs and then visit the last paragraph before reading the article in full. In this case Mr. Sewell’s quote in the last paragraph is a doozy. “I’m not against oil and gas development. I don’t think it should happen everywhere. There’s special places in the world and Thompson Divide is one of them.”
First of all, resource development can’t just happen everywhere because resources are scarce. That is why at the turn of the last century the U.S. Congress reserved the mineral wealth of the Piceance Basin for U.S. citizens instead of granting that wealth to Myron Thompson and other homesteading ranchers that have coexisted with mineral development for decades. In return, the ranchers earned the opportunity to own and develop the federal surface land for their private benefit.
Nowadays, enviro ranchers like Sewell that seek to eradicate resource development from the entire White River National Forest and other swaths of western Colorado are making a geographically finite resource basin dramatically smaller at the expense of federal taxpayers.
Worse still in the case of the Thompson Divide, Jason Sewell is increasing the value of his surface ownership by banning federal mineral development in and around his ranch while forcing taxpayers to pay the massive litigation and condemnation costs that will be necessary to terminate valid mineral leases on his private divide.
Thus in the end Friday’s Sentinel headline is certainly accurate. Thursday was a historic day for both Jason Sewell and the federal mineral owners like me that he has fleeced.