Printed letters, July 16 2010

Conservation groups did not act in good faith

Representing the oil and gas industry, I participated in Northwest Colorado Stewardship for three years until I had to withdraw due to a family emergency. NWCOS worked extremely hard and long to reach a compromise for management of BLM’s Little Snake resource area. NWCOS analyzed and discussed every management issue at great length including grazing, off-road vehicle use, wildlife and wild horse management, citizen-proposed wilderness areas and oil and gas.

The greatest frustration with this costly and time-consuming collaborative process was the lack of commitment by the environmental community to act in good faith.  Of the seven citizen-proposed wilderness areas, the majority of NWCOS agreed to set aside six.  The seventh was Vermillion for which it was agreed that the southern half of the area would be set aside, allowing the high oil and gas potential in the northern half to be leased.  Despite this dedicated effort at compromise, the environmental community remained dissatisfied and continued to insist upon withdrawal of that last half of Vermillion.  BLM, having the final decision, determined leasing in the northern half of Vermillion with a strict limit on disturbance, 1 percent at any given time, was appropriate as reflected in the draft plan’s preferred alternative.

In the spirit of compromise, industry didn’t take its objections beyond the local level. Clearly, this was not the case for environmental groups that demanded 100 percent of their objective.  Subsequently, Secretary Salazar and Gov. Ritter, from a ridge overlooking Vermillion Basin, declared the entire area should be protected.  In that moment, they summarily rejected the three years of dedication and hard work of NWCOS and BLM’s Little Snake Field office, undermined BLM’s decision-making authority and subjectively removed an area of high oil and gas potential from leasing and responsible development.

CLAIRE M. MOSELEY

Executive Director

Public Lands Advocacy

Denver

Vermillion drilling plan didn’t have full support

It would have been nice if Christi Zeller and David Ludlam, in their July 4 column in The Daily Sentinel, had bothered to get the facts straight prior to preaching on a topic they obviously know little about.

I participated in the Northwest Colorado Stewardship from start to finish, so I think I am qualified to speak on its history. NWCOS consisted of approximately 50 individuals representing both themselves and interests and met for three years in an attempt to develop and alternative for BLM’s Little Snake Resource Management Plan Revision. It was professionally facilitated by the Keystone Center and had direct contact with the BLM and the contractor hired to write the plan.

One of NWCOS’s tenets was that anything that was decided must be unanimous, 100 percent consensus and that NWCOS would not subvert the National Environmental Policy Act. In fact, a full range of alternatives were developed, including one that protected Vermillion Basin from any leasing and development.

In 2006, Moffat County and some of the other cooperating agencies proposed a drilling plan for Vermillion that included a 1 percent surface disturbance threshold. There was absolutely no agreement among the NWCOS participants to support this proposal, and any characterization to the contrary is either a bald-faced lie or evidence of serious ignorance about what actually occurred.

What we know is the truth is that the state of Colorado pulled its support for any proposal to drill Vermillion and the BLM spent the last three years examining whether or not it was right to destroy the character of one of the West’s most special places. Thankfully, BLM decided that preserving a treasured landscape and restoring some balance to our public lands was better than a few days of natural gas for the nation.

I and several others weren’t paid to sit at the table during NWCOS, and for someone who wasn’t even there to mischaracterize our efforts for their personal gain is just plain wrong. I hope this sets the record straight.

RICK HAMMEL

Craig

Great job, Mesa County Search and Rescue

I would like to say thank you once again to Jose, Kris and all of the Mesa County Search and Rescue climbing team who helped us reach the top of Independence Rock. We couldn’t have done it without you. It was spectacular. Thanks again!

JEANIE GROOMS

Grand Junction

Joseph Biden is most prominent plagiarist

In its July 14 editorial, The Daily Sentinel failed to mention the most prominent plagiarist of all — none other than Vice President Joseph Biden.

Biden was forced to admit to plagiarism during a senatorial re-election campaign in 1988. Scott McInnis’ sin was that of omission, not of commission, for failing to check the authenticity of his source (Rolly Fischer). Was the Sentinel’s action a sin of omission (Biden) or a sin of commission?

W. T. COHAN

Grand Junction



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