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Scott TiptonScott TiptonFebruary 20, 20185min312

Over the past few years, one question I have often heard in the 3rd District is: why are the federal departments that have jurisdiction over most Western lands headquartered in Washington, D.C. rather than in Western states? Particularly, why is the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) headquartered in Washington, when 99 percent of the over 247.3 million acres of public land that the BLM manages is located in the West?


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Mark JaffeMark JaffeFebruary 18, 20187min380
The citizen councils in Colorado created to advise the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) on local issues have been blocked from meeting for a year by Trump administration reviews and delays, setting off protests and resignations. The regional advisory councils, or RACs, were created by statute in 1995. There are three in Colorado—one each […]

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Joey BunchJoey BunchFebruary 15, 20187min280
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is pressing ahead with a massive overhaul of his department, despite growing opposition to his proposal to move hundreds of public employees out of Washington and possibly to Colorado or elsewhere in the West. Zinke wants to divide most of the department’s 70,000 employees and their responsibilities into 13 regions based […]

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Joey BunchJoey BunchFebruary 6, 20185min425

Anglers and environmentalists say President Trump’s plan to reshape the federal lease approval process for oil and gas is a means to muzzle their concerns.

The plan will “hand over public lands to the oil and gas industries,” according to the Wilderness Society.

The Interior Department released a memo Thursday instructing its field offices “to simplify and streamline the leasing process” for oil and gas leases with the Bureau of Land Management.

BLM will have 60 days to process a proposed lease, and the BLM offices “may” allow public participation, but it’s no longer mandatory. The window for public opposition to finalized leases is 10 days, and unresolved opposition can’t hold up a sale, according to the memo.

Trout Unlimited released a statement with a Denver dateline that accused the president and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke of “rolling back efforts to protect sensitive fish and wildlife habitat and involve local communities, sportsmen’s groups and other in federal lands planning.”

Scott Braden, the wilderness and public lands advocate for Conservation Colorado, fired off a “rapid response” email to the 36,000-plus supporters of the state’s largest environmental organization:

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke will stop at nothing to bring oil and gas drilling to every corner of our public lands. This week, he has proposed to erase commonsense policies that protect our public lands from drilling, including in special places like wildlands and lands adjacent to our national parks. His proposal also cuts opportunities for public comment effectively silencing the voices of hundreds of thousands of stakeholders and individuals who value our public lands.

The fallout from this attack on our lands could be catastrophic. Zinke’s preferential treatment to his pals in the oil and gas industry will fast track the approval of permits to drill on millions of acres of public lands across the West.

Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, a Republican running for governor, last year sided with the BLM over environmentalists in lease issues.

“This is a step backward in efforts to balance energy develop with sporting opportunity,” Steve Kandell, director of Trout Unlimited’s Sportsmen’s Conservation Project, said in a statement.

“The scrapping of master leasing plans dramatically reduces the opportunities for public involvement and shuts out the voices of local stakeholders, including sportsmen and women, in the management of their favorite places to fish and hunt.”

The move was not a complete surprise. Trump promised to roll back suck regulations, and in his State of the Union Tuesday night he reiterated what Zinke said on stage at the Western Conservative Summit in Denver last summer: The war on American energy is over.

BLM is key to the administration’s America First Energy Plan.

“Oil and gas lease sales on public land directly support domestic energy production and the President’s energy dominance and job growth priorities for America,” Deputy Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt said in a statement about increased domestic production last week. “2017 was a big year for oil and gas leasing on federal lands, and these sales provide critical revenue and job growth in rural America. We will continue to work into the next year to identify and modify unnecessary regulations that impede responsible energy development.”

Added Brian Steed, BLM’s deputy director for policy and programs: “These results are hard proof that our sound energy policy is working for both public lands and Americans in terms of reliable power and job growth opportunities. Going into the new year, we remain committed to an era of American energy dominance through our multiple-use mission that ensures opportunities for commercial, recreational, and conservation activities on healthy and productive public lands.”


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Joey BunchJoey BunchJanuary 6, 20182min421
The public is invited to come congratulate those “Saving Places” in our state at the History Colorado Center in Denver on Jan. 31. The Stephen H. Hart Awards for Historic Preservation ceremony is from 5:30 to 8 p.m. as part of Colorado Preservation Inc.’s Saving Places Conference. Here are the awards to be handed out: […]

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Tom RamstackTom RamstackNovember 30, 20176min222
WASHINGTON — Colorado U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton used the West Elk Mine near Somerset as an example of unnecessary delays from environmental regulatory procedures during a congressional hearing Wednesday. The coal mine won U.S. Forest Service approval to expand its operations in September. Work to build roads and methane vents on the site is scheduled […]

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Joey BunchJoey BunchNovember 10, 20175min921

Conservation Colorado is this juggernaut green organization that gives state and national candidates the heebie-jeebies in the West’s political wilds. Last year, 54 of the 60 candidates it endorsed went on to win.

And whenever legislation affecting the environment, large or small, is debated at the Capitol in Denver, Conservation Colorado is there in big ways and small.

But this year Conservation Colorado made its first municipal-level endorsements in Aurora Wards I and II.

Michal Rosenoer, the organization’s Front Range field manager, and her organization also helped campaign for Crystal Murillo and Nicole Johnston, too.

“This election is also an important triumph of progressive values and people-power over oil and gas-backed interests,” Rosenoer said. “Despite industry front group Vital for Colorado investing hundreds of thousands of dollars on these and other local races at the eleventh hour, voters ultimately picked candidates who pledged to stand up for our right to clean air, open spaces, and healthy communities.”

She also said, “Crystal and Nicole will bring a much-needed focus on diversity and inclusivity to the Aurora City Council, and will be champions on issues including oil and gas, transportation, growth, and social and environmental justice.”

The day after the election, however, Rosenoer, the Front Range leader, was tweeting about what was going down on the Western Slope the day before the election.

A protest over methane gas in Durango clearly warmed the spirits of the state’s largest environmental organization, which seems to have a lot of fires on a lot of fronts these days. (Donald Trump is good for business, if you make being your business.)

The Durango Herald’s Jonathan Romero reported that about 100 people gathered in a Durango park to raise a ruckus over Trump’s rollback of bipartisan rules passed last year to prevent methane leaks from oil and gas wells on public lands controlled by the Bureau of Land Management.

“Without this rule our county could face terrible health impacts,” Kellie Pettyjohn, a local farmer, told the Herald. “We don’t want this one-year delay. We want this rule in place.”

Based on rules first adopted in Colorado, the BLM methane rule would affect more than 100,000 wells that Romero reports can release up to 180,000 tons of methane annual a year. Moreover that’s methane that could be captured and sold to bring in additional money for schools and other public projects.

Conservation Colorado was all over the local activism.

Lisa Pool, Conservation Colorado’s field organizer for Durango, told us more:

“It was remarkable to see how well the protest was attended and how passionate people were about the subject,” she told Colorado Politics. “Here in Durango we suffer from a cloud of methane pollution, so the issue is visceral for people. They were infuriated not only by the proposed delay, but also by how limited the public is allowed to be engaged by the process. Protestors of all ages were fired up and chanting throughout.”

The organization Thursday announced it’s promoting communications director Jessica Goad to deputy director, where she’ll “work more directly on elections, campaigns, building the team, and helping hire a new executive director.” Pete Maysmith stepped down as the organization’s leader last month to take on a national role with the League of Conservation Voters.