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. Continue reading →