Western Slopers are still smarting, and rightly so, from the BLM’s bum rush to muscle through rejiggered rules that will likely limit oil and gas development in the White River National Forest.
U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton gave the agency a piece of his mind during a stern lecture on the House floor last week, and basically told the agency that if their plan was really solid, they should have felt confident enough to extend the comment period beyond the Christmas holiday so folks had enough time to weigh in on the plan.
Despite pleas from public officials across the Western Slope from Tipton as well as U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, the BLM refused to give in and held fast to the Jan. 8 deadline, even though granting extensions is just a formality that’s always granted.
Tipton said the refusal adds to the growing list of private property abuses inflicted by Washington, and that the outcome of the BLM’s decision will set a disturbing precedent that will undermine every contract the feds enter into with private business.
What’s at stake are 65 existing leases that were approved in 1993, but now the Interior Department is reviewing those leases to adopt an environmental analysis to replace the other environmental analysis that greenies didn’t like and the BLM forgot to sign off on.
Rather than signing on the dotted line, the BLM caved to pressure from national environmental groups and is doing the reviews all over again. So now the leases will either be revoked, or reworked to add restrictions that will likely put off energy producers.
Here’s part of what Tipton had to say:
The federal government is acting as nothing more than a highway robber, in this case and many others, robbing citizens and businesses of property they have bought and paid for and telling us that we should just be grateful there’s someone looking out for our greater interests.
It is abundantly clear that the BLM intends to ramrod through a decision which will trample lease owners’ rights by canceling or altering leases to the point as to make them economically unviable. This is unfortunately in line with a disturbing trend of federal agency abuses of private property rights, whether it is the Forest Service’s repeated attempts to leverage Special Use Permits to forcibly acquire private water rights, or the EPA’s determination to classify every ditch and puddle as a “Water of the United States” to further insert itself in to the everyday lives of ordinary, hard-working Americans.
Here’s Tipton’s full speech. Washington should pay attention, for once.