This Saturday will mark the 20th anniversary of Public Lands Day. Scores of volunteers will spread out across some of our most treasured landscapes to pick up trash, work on our trails, mountain bike, hike and everything in between.
But Public Lands Day is also a call to action. It’s time for our government officials to put words into deeds. Westerners are calling for a balanced approach to oil and gas development. And one of the best ways the Obama administration can ensure balance is by fully implementing the leasing reforms that were issued more than three years ago.
In June, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell testified in front of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. In her testimony, she told Members that landscape level planning has the ability to “facilitate the right kinds of transactions where there is no conflict and if there is substantial conflict, we know that up front.” It’s exactly for this reason that Master Leasing Plans are essential to reducing red tape and potential conflict.
Then, on Wednesday, Secretary Jewell held a live-chat with members of the public where she was asked a variety of questions about our public lands. Once again she reiterated her commitment to landscape level planning and ensuring a balance between energy development and conservation, saying, “balance is important and we are committed to both.”
That’s exactly what Westerners are calling for. Unfortunately, the oversized lobby of the oil and gas industry often drowns our voices out.
On public lands day Saturday, oil and gas production will continue to hit all time highs in places like North Dakota and in Western states like Colorado, oil and gas production is topping levels not seen in 50 years. But with increased production we’re also going to see conflict in places like Utah.
Leasing reforms give stakeholders the opportunity to work together, reduce red tape, provide certainty and find balance. In places like Moab, Utah and Chaco Canyon, New Mexico, plans are starting to move forward. Westerners are looking for common sense solutions to longstanding controversies and with Secretary Jewell’s commitment to reforms she can help ensure a positive path forward to our most pressing natural resource issues. Our quality of life and economy depend on finding balance and compromise.
I’m glad to hear Secretary Jewell explaining her commitment to a balanced approach between conservation and energy development. Westerners have been waiting and waiting for commonsense, thoughtful solutions to our most pressing natural resource issues – but too often we’ve just heard the same rhetoric from Washington over and over again while oil and gas companies get preferential treatment out West. It’s time to get to work and put Secretary Jewell’s words into real action by fully implementing the leasing reforms issued more than three years ago.
Now is the time to let your voice be heard. Engage on Twitter at #NPLD20 or Facebook. Better yet, get and enjoy your public lands.