Salazar’s onshore drilling reform hailed by some Colorado officials

Past U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management leaders are among 60 former federal and state land and wildlife officials who signed a letter supporting Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s proposed onshore oil and gas drilling reforms.

The group sent the letter amid Salazar’s focus on implementing offshore reforms in response to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Mike Dombeck, who served during the Clinton administration first as acting Bureau of Land Management director and then as Forest Service chief, referred to the spill in prepared comments issued in conjunction with the group’s letter.

“We’ve seen in recent weeks in the Gulf what can happen when balance, common sense and enforcement are sacrificed. It is imperative that we restore balance to energy development both on and offshore in order to protect the health of our land and water. We hope that Secretary Salazar’s leasing reform will do that,” he said.

Dale Bosworth, Forest Service chief from 2001-2007 during the Bush administration, also signed the letter. So did Jim Baca, who briefly headed the BLM during the Clinton administration.

Former Colorado BLM director Ann Morgan was a signatory, as were numerous former state Division of Wildlife employees and former Colorado Wildlife Commission chairwoman Rebecca Frank of Grand Junction.

“Your proposal to reform the leasing policies for oil and gas seems to restore much-needed balance to the leasing process and is an important step forward for this administration,” the group’s letter says.

The letter steps up a battle of correspondence over Salazar’s onshore oil and gas policies. More than 90 county commissioners and other elected officials in the West have signed letters asking the former U.S. senator from Colorado to consider the impact of his policies on jobs and rural economies. All three Mesa County commissioners and elected officials from Rio Blanco and Montrose counties have joined in that request.

Salazar announced the planned reforms in January. The Interior Department contends more upfront scrutiny of lease areas will reduce legal challenges and provide more certainty to industry.

Kathleen Sgamma of the Independent Petroleum Association of Mountain States said the reforms instead would add more layers of analysis to an already lengthy process.


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