Hickenlooper Dithers On The Great Sand Dunes Oil & Gas Lease, Navajo Nation Vows to Protect Land

Bruce Finley at The Denver Post has some great reporting on an upcoming move by the Bureau of Land Management to open up some of Colorado’s wildest land near the Sangre de Cristo Wilderness and The Great Sand Dune National Park to oil and gas interests. Part of a larger effort by the BLM under the Trump administration to open up protected, preserved lands to corporate energy entities, similar fights have also opened up in Utah’s Zion National Park and the Bear Ears National Monument. Despicably but predictably, much of the BLM’s moves directly target sites sacred to indigenous communities, untouched by industry, and in many cases, previously surveyed and determined that the potential wealth extracted isn’t worth the environmental consequences. The 18,000 acres of public lands slated for oil and gas industrialization in Colorado is home to two spiritually important mountains for the Navajo people and residents in the area overwhelmingly want to preserve the area for future tourism, one of Colorado’s largest revenue generators.

Governor Hickenlooper, characteristically wishy-washy, responded to the issues raised by conservationist groups and tribal leaders in a fashion fit for a typical soulless buisnessman:

“We take the concerns regarding mineral leasing seriously and will address new concerns as they are raised.”

The article further notes that Hickenlooper, in contrast to his Utah Republican counterpart Gary Herbert who has barred BLM efforts to drill on protected land, is declining to intervene on the sale despite having the power to do so. State lawmakers opposed to the development are relying on Senators Michael Bennet (D) and Corey Gardner (R), to protect vulnerable fauna as well as crucial watersheds, which is a little like hoping your crackhead neighbors talk their own friends out of burglarizing your apartment and shitting in your bathtub.

In a remarkable turn of events, the Environmental Protection Agency (now headed famously by the villainous shopaholic Scott Pruitt, who almost certainly buys the special edition commemorative rape DLC packages at Westworld) is actually recommending a delay in the parcel leases, at least until the BLM revises a 33-year land-use plan addressing various environmental concerns as well as formulates impact reduction proposals. That sounds like lip service, and anyone that has even dipped their toes into an environmental campaign knows that trusting an energy company to audit its own detrimental impact on an ecosystem its seeking to exploit is a fool’s errand akin to observing a pedophile’s grooming techniques. Perhaps the EPA is still a little gun-shy after the 2015 Gold King Mine disaster, which undoubtedly also left a toxic taste in the mouth of the Navajo Nation.

Attempting to point out obvious hypocrisy on the right-wing in this day in age is functionally useless, but I’m going to do it anyway. The contrast between say, the Bundy Ranch Standoff, in which the BLM was portrayed as headed by a Mecha-Janet Reno ready to Ruby Ridge a bunch of cattle farmers and should be confronted with armed force by a Rascal Scooter militia; and the brutal Standing Rock pipeline protests is so stark and disturbingly systematically racist. Provided there is no delay from conservationist groups and tribal leadership looking to fight this in court (and I put very little stock in the courts), the BLM plans to hold lease auctions on September 6th.

Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye has “vowed to protect the beauty and sacredness of the land,” without going into specific detail as to what that entails. In the face of growing eco-resistance across the United States as Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke steadfastly mans the glory hole in the third floor bathroom at the Department of Energy, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Colorado open up as a new flashpoint. Fracking is already a hot-button issue, and as the midterms approach it’s only a matter of time before an attractive actress in her late 30s is on television commercials trying and “failing” to set her tap water on fire while her towheaded children plead with voters to let their father keep his rig job.

In correlating news that should surprise absolutely nobody, despite record production levels and increased exports, gas prices are hovering around $3 a gallon here in Colorado. In America, there’s no easier way to motivate a low information voter than manipulating the price of gas.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s