Despite objections by Montana small business owners and conservation groups, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke moved forward with an oil and gas lease sale on the doorstep of the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument.
The final lease sale sold for the Bureau of Land Management’s minimum bid level of two dollars per acre to a yet-to-be disclosed oil and gas company. Western Values previously documented oil and gas lease sales near or bordering protected public lands across the West, including maps.
In response, Western Values Project Deputy Director Jayson O’Neill issues the following statement:
Secretary Zinke’s oil and gas lease sale on the doorstep on the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument threatens to undermine the area’s protections and fails to provide a fair return to taxpayers. The Secretary’s actions are a slap in the face to the outdoor businesses, from river guides to hunting outfitters, that enjoy providing Montana visitors a glimpse of our unspoiled nature and pristine landscapes in an area that had been changed little since the Lewis and Clark expedition.”
Secretary Zinke recently pulled lease sales in the Chaco, New Mexico area and near Livingston, Mont., citing the need for balanced development and tourism. He has also been heavily criticized for his unilateral decision to remove Florida’s coast from offshore drilling.
According to a report by the Outdoor Industry Association, Montana’s outdoor economy generated $7.1 billion in consumer spending in 2016, now the largest economic sector in the state.
Also published on Medium.