Editorial on leasing was right and wrong

The June 28 Herald editorial, “County, gas leasing,” got some things right and some not so right. Right: “The county is right to call foul. ... The BLM acted too quickly and shadily in offering the leases before the Resource Management Plan was finalized.” When the BLM offered these same parcels for lease in 2009, that action was deferred when, internally, staff came to the conclusion that no leasing should occur until the 20-year-old resource management plan and supplemental environmental impact statement were updated. That has still not happened, yet the current BLM management has decided that outdated documents are sufficient to manage development under a brand-new technology.

This agency has taken a huge step backward to the 1980s, when its mantra was a prescient “Drill, baby, drill,” and needs to be brought to task for this unacceptable use of power.

Not so right: “Commissioners overstep in pushing for specific planning protocol ... the county’s letter is a bit meddlesome and presumptuous ... county commissioners are not in the position of advising the agency about which of those tools it should use.”

On the contrary, the county commissioners are exactly in a position of advising the BLM, and should, each and every time that agency’s actions are not in the best interest of our community. The commissioners’ collective voice carries far more weight than that of individual citizens, and needs to be present and persistent because if not spoken, concerns are too easily ignored and will go unaddressed.

To characterize that as “meddlesome and presumptuous” is demeaning and presumptuous. Commissioners Julie Westendorff and Gwen Lachelt are to be congratulated on their ongoing efforts to make the BLM an accountable agency that makes decisions based on getting as much information as possible, using as many tools as it has at its disposal. Their letter fulfilled one of their responsibilities as commissioners.

Josh Joswick


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