Letter: Preserving Thompson Divide is a long battle
I want to thank the Bureau of Land Management and the fabulous residents of Carbondale for coming out to the recent public meeting on 65 existing oil and gas leases the BLM is reviewing.
These meetings are an early step in the development of an environmental impact statement by the BLM. This document is a decision-making tool for the agency to decide what to do with the 65 leases, which are the subject of the impact statement. The BLM will use the environmental impact statement to decide if it will do nothing and let the leases stand, void the leases or implement some alternative action in between these two extremes, which involves allowing the leases to stand and development to occur, with specific plans to mitigate the impacts.
As you may expect, the overwhelming opinion of those speaking at last week’s meeting was to void the leases. That will continue to be the goal, and it is very important that we continue to remain clear on that.
It also is important to understand this process, and the purpose of the environmental impact statement. It is to help the BLM make their decision and attempt to balance the needs of all involved. At this stage in the process, the BLM is asking us to help them make sure they are aware of all of the potential impacts of the leases, and to offer possible solutions to those problems. An environmental impact statement evaluates flora, fauna, air- and water-quality impacts, economic impacts on ranching, recreation, local businesses, social, historical sites and many others.
Now is our opportunity to make sure the BLM knows all of the impacts of these leases so they can evaluate each one, and if they chose to allow the leases to continue, how we think they should mitigate impacts to those interests. I urge you to educate yourself, draft comments and participate in this process. Protecting Thompson Divide is a marathon, not a sprint. Please stay involved. For more information go to http://www.blm.gov/co/crvfo, WildernessWorkshop.org and SaveThompsonDivide.org.