Ignoring Public Outcry, Federal Government To Offer Oil And Gas Leases Near Mesa Verde National Park

News outlets reported late last week that the Colorado Bureau of Land Management will be auctioning off nearly 12,000 acres of public lands for oil and gas drilling in November. But here’s the catch: the majority of those acres are located less than ten miles from Mesa Verde, one of our iconic national parks.

Drilling so close to the park could have major impacts on its natural resources and the experiences that visitors have when they come to enjoy it. As the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees stated, drilling:

…could further impair the already degraded air quality at Mesa Verde, harm important scenic values within the surrounding landscape and negatively affect the local economy, which depends greatly on the national park’s protected status.

These areas were originally put up for lease in February 2013, but were pulled from the leasing block after significant public outcry, including criticism from the National Park Service itself. Now they are quietly being offered again.

Mesa Verde isn’t the only national park that could be harmed by drilling on its borders. A report from the National Parks Conservation Association earlier this year warned of the impacts that drilling on public and private lands close to national parks can cause.

And a recent video from the Center for American Progress explained how oil and gas drilling is already having major impacts (with more to come) on the national park named after our most important conservation president, Theodore Roosevelt:

It is also important to note that drilling is already occurring in 12 national park units around the country, while 30 more (including Mesa Verde) could have drilling within their borders in the future because they contain valid mineral rights.

The fact that oil and gas companies want to drill so close to national parks is an illustration of how out of balance our energy policy is on public lands. And in yet another example, The Wilderness Society released an analysis yesterday showing that between March 31 and June 30, 2013 (the second quarter of the year), the Obama administration has leased 201,479 acres of public lands to oil and gas companies, while protecting no acres as parks, monuments, or wilderness areas.

Recent polling from the Center for American Progress shows that the public overwhelmingly favors conservation of their public lands over drilling them. In fact, while 65 percent of voters say that permanent protection of public lands should be a “very important priority” for the federal government, only 30 percent say the same about oil and gas drilling.

11 Responses to Ignoring Public Outcry, Federal Government To Offer Oil And Gas Leases Near Mesa Verde National Park

  1. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    You guys are just beginners! In Australia, in the North-West of Western Australia, there is a place called Burrup or Murujuga. Scattered around the area are up to one million lithographs, rock carvings, covering tens of thousands of years of human effort. The area has long been a centre of mining and other industrial activity, and for years, under nakedly racist state Rightwing regimes, the stones were quarried for road fill etc. Even after an uproar finally broke out, the heavy pollution in the area is rapidly degrading this world heritage site.

  2. Mike Roddy says:

    The BLM oil and gas leasing unit has already been exposed as rotten to the core, including girls, drugs, and cash payments to US Government employees. Evidence that this hasn’t been cleaned up is the fact that coal still goes for a tenth of a penny per pound, which of course is absurd.

    Obama needs to clean this up. Even some Republicans must be sickened, as these kinds of things are only supposed to happen in countries like Venezuela or Kazakhstan. It looks like we are no better.

    I’d like to hear from Tim DeChristopher on this. He would know what’s going on.

  3. Sasparilla says:

    The Obama all in energy policy in action!

    Money, obviously, talks.

  4. Raul M. says:

    Once in a history book of the park system, I read that one of the main reasons that there were parks approved was that the parks were to be in remote places and that there was nothing exceptional to be gained by private industry in such places. It seems that the public wants something from there these days and that just being quiet about what is going on will further private industrys’ chances to deliver the products.

  5. rollin says:

    Don’t you feel like the great democratic experiment failed, making you feel powerless? Back in the 1800’s and early 1900’s the company ruled and everybody lined up or got dumped. Now the companies rule again, they do what they want and where they want.

    “You load sixteen tons, what do you get
    Another day older and deeper in debt
    Saint Peter don’t you call me ’cause I can’t go
    I owe my soul to the company store”

    Maybe they will be kind in the future and not kick our descendants out of the company housing until the end of the month when the worker dies.

  6. Robert In New Orleans says:

    Ah, the deep irony of fossil fuel extraction in the vicinity of a extinct civilization terminated by long ago “natural climate change”.

  7. rollin says:

    Good call, a view into our future.

  8. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    The Bosses pretended to be human beings only from 1917 to 1989, and then only out of fear of communist revolution. Once half the socialists had sold out to become ‘social democrats’ implicitly accepting capitalist rule, and then the USSR disappeared, in 1989, the Bosses felt invulnerable, so, naturally, as a canine returns to its emesis, they reverted to their true nature. The sheer viciousness of the reaction since is just the Right blowing off the pent-up rage and frustration of those lost decades of being forced to be relatively nice to the serfs.

  9. Mike Roddy says:

    They’ve been faking being nice to the land, too, Mulga. During World War II, claiming a national emergency, the loggers went into Yosemite and cut a lot of trees.

    They would turn Yellowstone into a power plant and drill in Glacier Park if they could get a way with it.

  10. okey p says:

    It seems that “we the people” have just been on a downhill slide since 1980. Access to higher education, factories, jobs, benefits, retirement funds, top the list of our losses. We’ve been told that these losses are necessary. For whom? And there are plans that require us to give up our publicly held properties. Qui bono? We the people?

  11. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Careful, Mike-they might hear you, and get ideas for more ‘wealth creation’. Come to think of it, I ought to send my salutations to whatever spybot at the NSA is tasked with perusing my drivel today. And I’d like to be water-boarded with rain water, please. Fluoride free.