Please check the box below if you agree to the following comments. A check in the box is required in order to submit the form to the BLM.
Dear BLM Director Tracy Stone-Manning, I am writing to you today regarding the BLM’s proposed preference for areas with high development potential and proximity to existing oil and gas infrastructure in its proposed oil and gas leasing rule. This rule has the opportunity to do more than just reform outdated fiscal policies related to bonding, cost per acre for competitive leasing, and royalty rates. It has the opportunity and obligation (moral and legal) to stop new oil and gas leasing and institute a managed decline of oil and gas production on BLM lands. The climate crisis is upon us, and drafting a rule that gives preference to leasing lands with high development potential is not only irresponsible, it is in direct conflict with the Biden Administration’s promise to stop oil and gas leasing on public lands, climate goals, and the BLM’s statutory obligation to prevent permanent impairment, and unnecessary and undue degradation of its lands. Concentrating leasing and development in areas of high development potential does nothing to arrest the climate crisis; it only fuels it. The proposed rule fails to consider climate impacts, local warming, the cumulative effect of greenhouse gas emissions, and that according to the International Energy Agency new oil and gas leasing and permitting is not necessary to meet future energy demand. Delta and Gunnison County have already warmed beyond global catastrophic levels. Delta County has warmed 2.1°C, Gunnison County 1.5°C, the Bureau of Land Management’s Uncompahgre Field Office 1.9°C, and the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, and Gunnison National Forest 1.9°C. We are already experiencing the devastating effects of this change in climate, including extreme weather, prolonged mega-drought, increased and intensifying wildfire risk and, most recently landslides and the collapsed roads including Highway 133 between Paonia and Somerset. The upper North Fork Valley including Gunnison County, and the Grand Mesa watershed are designated high development potential for oil and gas extraction. Yet, the rule does nothing to reconcile local climate and environmental indicators with preferences that will result in worsening local conditions. This rule needs denial criteria in order for the BLM to meet its moral and statutory obligations and tackle the climate emergency that we are facing today. Please amend the proposed rule to include leasing denial criteria based on 1.5 degrees Celsius (3 degrees Fahrenheit) or more of local warming and critical environmental factors, including important fish and wildlife habitats, connectivity areas, headwaters and watersheds, rare ecosystems, lands with wilderness characteristics, or a designated geologic hazard area. Climate change is the existential threat of our time and to the Grand Mesa Watershed and the North Fork Valley. Our communities are national and worldwide recreational and ecological tourist attractions that depend on abundant, predictable, and clean water resources. The proposed rule needs to do more than ensure taxpayer return on oil and gas production; it needs to ensure that public lands are not permanently impaired, unnecessarily and unduly degraded, and not used to intensify local warming and climate impacts. I urge the BLM to do everything within its authority to issue a commonsense rule that will preserve critical ecosystems like the Grand Mesa and North Fork Valley for generations to come. Sincerely,