Environmentalists wary of oil and gas leases near Great Sand Dunes
Author: Kara Mason - March 28, 2018 - Updated: March 28, 2018
The Trump administration’s “make America safe through energy independence” plan may be taking hold of eastern Colorado, near the Great Sand Dunes.
A news release from the Bureau of Land Management this week said the agency is proposing oil and gas leases on nearly 22,000 acres of federal land across a swath of Colorado. Eleven parcels are located in Huerfano County equaling about 18,000 acres, two parcels in Kiowa County, three in Lincoln County and two in Washington County.
Another 1,495 acres is being considered in Weld County.
The Royal Gorge field office for BLM is now accepting comments on the proposal’s environmental assessment — which Field Manager Keith Berger said are welcomed and encouraged.
“We appreciate the public interest and public input we’ve received on the proposal to lease these parcels, and we look forward to input on the environmental assessment,” Berger said in a released statement. “No leases are proposed in the San Luis Valley and no leases are part of Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve.”
In the release Berger is said to be “stressing the importance of accurate information for the public” about what is and isn’t being proposed: namely that there will be no leases on Great Sand Dunes land. The proposed location is on the eastern side of the Sangre de Cristo mountain range. The Sand Dunes are on the western side.
The San Luis Valley Ecosystem Council is also urging the public to make comments. But the non-profit organization has concerns about the proposal and its impact on water, wildlife and the dunes, saying the closest parcels are less than 10 miles from the national park.
The America First Energy Plan has been controversial in that is a drastic step away from the Obama-era Clean Power Plan. Trump’s plan makes no mention of any alternative energies and focuses in on oil, gas and coal.
“We will bring new opportunity to the heartland, new prosperity to our inner cities, and new infrastructure all across our nation. When it comes to the future of America’s energy needs, we will find it, we will dream it, and we will build it,” President Donald Trump said in a speech in August.
Forty-nine percent of each lease sale would go to back the state, according to BLM’s release.