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Mitt Romney is pitiching the idea that he can increase US energy independence, lower gas prices and create thousands of jobs by speeding up oil and gas development in the US; and in Canada with the Keystone pipline.  How does Romney intend to speed US oil and gas development?  In his energy plan he says he wants to turn over regulation of oil and gas production to the states.  He predicts that state regulation will result in quicker approval of leases and mines.  This might seem like a small matter in an election where voters will decide whether or not we will address climate change.  But for those who care about our national parks, our national forests, wilderness and our other public lands, it should be a real concern.  If the states get authority to regulate drilling on public lands, it could be a tipping point, when the heirs of the sagebrush rebellion finally establish a long-sought precedent for local control of federal land.  

Continued beneath the fold.

The federal National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) guides every federal agency.  It requires that all environmental effects of a federal action are fully evaluated.  Many states have parallel legislation, but provisions are usually much weaker.  In many states, state regulation of actions like drilling on public land would allow for more environmental degradation.  But an even greater concern would be state or local decision making regarding the use of federal lands.  And it is a short step from allowing the states to regulate activities like drilling on federal lands, to allowing the state to choose which activities will occur on those lands.  Already local communities do participate in planning for land use on public lands.  But this is very different from direct state or local control of the decision making process.  From Utah where the creation of latest national monuments was strenuously resisted, to Montana where a wolf hunt was established after federal government biologists worked tirelessly to reintroduce wolves to Greater Yellowstone ecosystem, it is clear that state and local priorities are often at odds with national environmental goals.  

Federal land managers face a constant barrage of requests for all types of commercial activity; more grazing, more timber harvest, more cell phone towers, more roads, more permits for outfitters.  With a thorough review of the impacts of these proposals developed under NEPA, federal land managers can make a balanced decision.  Environmental stewardship will get short shrift if NEPA is circumvented and local people are left to decide whether their neighbors can use the federal land for profit.  

For many of us the parks, forests, deserts, wildlife refuges and wilderness areas managed by our federal government comprise a unique and wonderful national asset that we want to pass on to our children and grandchildren. Because of the precedent it would establish, Romney's energy plan that would transfer to the states authority to regulate drilling on federal lands, is a threat to that wild lands legacy.

Originally posted to gemsfordems on Tue Oct 02, 2012 at 10:18 AM PDT.

Also republished by New Diarists.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I doubt many sagebrushy type westerners take (0+ / 0-)

    Romney seriously. The Federal government is the least of the impediments to oil, gas, or coal. Most drilling and mining is approved if it isn't in an ecologically or aesthetically vulnerable area.

    In reality the Obama administration has been as liberal as is sensible in issuing leases and drilling permits. The retiring BLM Director Bob Abbey (see link for great article about him) has worked out solutions that are workable for local states, extractive industries and the Federal Government that take into account multiple use.

    Parks and Wilderness areas are seldom in places attractive to mineral development.

    You very much misunderstand the federal governments stance on wolves. If it had been left to the federal government they would have delisted and so allowed a wolf hunt many many years ago. The states as well as the federal government and locals were aligned together on this issue. The only impediment actually were outsiders, radical extreme "environmental" animal rights groups. The feds made some pretty huge mistakes over wolves by imposing them on a resistant local population. They've changed as they've learned.

    The only people who might celebrate privatization of federal lands are the extreme right who are covetous. The sagebrush rebellion has all but disappeared. A western rancher now is the director of all public lands, his name is Ken Salazar. Best secretary of Interior in four decades.

    How big is your personal carbon footprint?

    by ban nock on Tue Oct 02, 2012 at 11:31:13 AM PDT

    •  What? (0+ / 0-)
      Best secretary of Interior in four decades.

      202-224-3121 to Congress in D.C. USE it! You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage them. "We're not perfect, but they're nuts."--Barney Frank 01/02/2012

      by cany on Tue Oct 02, 2012 at 01:14:59 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  That would be since Mo Udall, a legendary Sec of (0+ / 0-)

        Int. lots of people don't know who he was but he was extremely effective as is Salazar. My senator is his nephew I think, there's another Udall senator from New Mexico, same family.

        How big is your personal carbon footprint?

        by ban nock on Tue Oct 02, 2012 at 06:36:24 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I understood what you meant... I just don't (0+ / 0-)

          like Salazar at all.

          202-224-3121 to Congress in D.C. USE it! You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage them. "We're not perfect, but they're nuts."--Barney Frank 01/02/2012

          by cany on Tue Oct 02, 2012 at 07:03:24 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  oh... well don't feel alone, he stepped on some (0+ / 0-)

            toes out here before he went to DC. As AG of the state of CO he prosecuted polluters and restricted energy development from some areas that not many people recreate in but are beautiful and unique none the less.

            If you are from a coal state or something it's really too bad that your economy has suffered. Wish there were a way to alleviate unemployment from electric plant closings.

            I know it must be hard to see if your state depends on extractive industry but he has juggled the need for multi use.

            How big is your personal carbon footprint?

            by ban nock on Wed Oct 03, 2012 at 04:52:13 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Drilling, wolves and sagebrush rebels (0+ / 0-)

      I couldn't agree more that the federal government is not the impediment to drilling.  Most leases just lie dormant; the companies never drill.  But it is good politics to blame the federal government for impeding "job creation".

      The greater Yellowstone area has wolves because of a federal reintroducion in a National Park.  If I'm not mistaken, all the states involved were opposed to that action.  So I think it is a stretch to say that the feds and the states were aligned on this issue.  And I know federal biologists involved in the reintroduction effort are opposed to the hunt-----though I don't know if there was a specific stance on the issue from the administration.

      I agree that the sagebrush rebellion is no longer an entity.  But the spirit of that movement is alive and well.  If we wind up with a sympathetic Congress and a GOP president who probably has no interest, sagebrush rebellion ideas may spring back to life with renewed vigor.

      •  the feds, the states, the people in those states, (0+ / 0-)

        are on the same page for many years. The Feds blew it with reintroduction, and many still don't forgive them even though they are now on the side of the angels.

        Everyone except coasties and animal rights crazies (same same?) want to see populations sharply reduced, yup that means hunting and trapping and helicopter culling like they did in WA state this week.

        How big is your personal carbon footprint?

        by ban nock on Tue Oct 02, 2012 at 06:59:48 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I would add that at the state level, the issue (0+ / 0-)

    would be messier (management of public lands) and less consistent, as well.

    202-224-3121 to Congress in D.C. USE it! You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage them. "We're not perfect, but they're nuts."--Barney Frank 01/02/2012

    by cany on Tue Oct 02, 2012 at 01:17:19 PM PDT

    •  state regulation could be a problem for drilling (0+ / 0-)

      I agree that there would be a downside for the big oil companies that operate in many states and would have to deal with different regulations.  Their opposition, if it materializes, could be the saving grace.

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