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BLM resource management plans stymie Western states’ energy development

The powder keg of public land management in the West

Western states rail against Biden’s Bureau of Land Management and its resource plans

Deseret News

Amy Joi O’Donoghue

Critics say draft resource management plans put forward by the Bureau of Land Management are slated to take more than 6 million acres off the table in Western states for potential energy extraction and also put new restrictions on infrastructure such as transmission lines and roads.

“Colorado’s Western Slope used to have a booming energy economy,” said Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo. “Unfortunately, we have been regulated into poverty by bad Democratic policies.”

Boebert spoke Wednesday before the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Federal Lands where there were numerous bills aimed at thwarting the draft plans, as well as legislation to put restrictions on the presidential use of the Antiquities Act.

Boebert said a once thriving energy industry in her area is just a whisper of itself.

“Roughnecks used to come into my restaurant,” she said. “I knew I was having a good day when I would find mud on the floor because of their boots .”

She said they have all been forced out of the area and a region that used to host 112 drilling rigs is now down to four.

She blamed “extremist” policies that are continuing with draft resource management plans that would remove 1.6 million acres from potential energy extraction in her area.

“The consequences will be felt far beyond the state of Colorado,” she said. “It is not just economics. It is a threat to our nation’s energy independence and security.”

But her Democratic colleague, Rep. Joe Neguse from Colorado, reiterated that the plans are just in draft form, have been years in the making and have been the subject of public debate, input and scrutiny.

“There’s a lot of misinformation,” he countered.

Rep. Harriet Hageman, R-Wyo., dismissed Neguse’s assertions.

“In typical fashion, the federal government has chosen the very alternative that has the most community opposition and would do the most damage. In total, under the preferred alternative about 2.5 million acres of land would not be available for new rights of way. This would be an increase of more than 480% placed to off limits for such things as powerlines pipelines and maintaining roads,” she said, pointing to the draft proposal in the Rock Springs area.

“Most disheartening about this (plan) is the fact that it ignored stakeholder input over the past 12 years. The administration continues to insert itself into every community in America under the guise of claiming to do good only to outright ignore the community’s needs and to pursue bad policies and the pursuit of political goals for the administration — political goals for this administration that are not shared by Wyoming.”

Kathleen Sgamma, president of the Western Energy Alliance representing hundreds of independent oil and gas producers in the West, said the Wyoming plan in the Rock Springs area alone removes 59% of the mineral estate in a region heavily dependent on energy extraction.

Overall, the BLM’s resource management plans propose to take 6.1 million acres off the table for potential energy development in four states, Sgamma said.

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