Climate + Energy

Coalition Demands Public Hearings Around Colorado Fracking

North Fork Valley Credit EcoFlight

North Fork Valley of  western Colorado. Photo by EcoFlight.

A grassroots coalition this week called on the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to hold public hearings around the agency’s latest plans to auction more than 200,000 acres of public lands in Colorado for fracking.

The demand comes as these latest fracking plans threaten many of Colorado’s iconic and irreplaceable landscapes, including the Pawnee National Grassland, North Park, Dinosaur National Monument, and the Roan Plateau.

Most significantly, the Bureau of Land Management is proposing to sell off public lands in the North Fork Valley of western Colorado. The North Fork Valley is an agricultural gem, renowned for its outdoor recreation, and is stunningly beautiful.

For many years ow, we’ve been working closely with the group, Citizens for a Healthy Community, to protect the North Fork from fracking.

The Bureau of Land Management’s latest plans would sell off lands for fracking in the headwaters of the North Fork Valley, where towns like Paonia and Hotchkiss get their drinking water and where all of the Valley gets its irrigation water.

Not surprisingly, these plans to frack the North Fork have even drawn criticism from Colorado’s Governor.

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North Fork Valley residents have been resisting fracking for several years.

Critically, the call for a hearing also comes as the Bureau of Land Management is providing little to no opportunity for public comment on these latest plans to sell off public lands to the oil and gas industry.

While the agency is seeking comments on two assessments related to selling lands in the North Fork Valley and in eastern Colorado, the agency is expressly forbidding the American public from submitting comments on selling lands anywhere else.

Even where the Bureau of Land Management is accepting comments, the agency is providing only 15 days to review and respond to hundreds of pages of analysis (the assessment of leasing lands in the North Fork Valley is 157 pages long).

These shortened or no comment periods come as President Trump and his Interior Secretary, Ryan Zinke have dictated that selling lands to the oil and gas industry become the “dominant” use of American public lands and minerals.

The result is the Bureau of Land Management is throwing the concept of multiple use out the window and instead sacrificing public lands everywhere to a singular use: fossil fuel development.

Together with our allies, we’re demanding the Bureau of Land Management stop excluding the public from the management of our lands and minerals, and start listening to Americans.

We hope they respond by welcoming the opportunity to hear us out.

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