In response to a request for public hearings around plans to auction off more than 200,000 acres of public lands in Colorado for fracking, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management had two words for the American public: buzz off.
At the end of August, a coalition of groups representing tens of thousands of Coloradans called on the Bureau of Land Management to hold public hearings around its plans to sell public lands to the oil and gas industry.
The request came as public lands across the state are being put on the auction block, including in Colorado’s North Fork Valley, Roan Plateau, North Park, and Greater Dinosaur National Monument region.
What’s more, under the Trump Administration, the Bureau of Land Management has whittled down opportunities for public comment in some cases has even eliminated opportunities for the public to engage.
Just to be clear, the Bureau of Land Management is a federal agency that works for the American people. As the the manager of the majority of the nation’s publicly owned lands, the agency is supposed to be a steward for the public interest. Instead, the agency is shutting the door on the public and denying people the right to speak.
In the agency’s curt response to the request for public hearings, the agency simply stated, “The BLM will not hold public hearings or public meetings[.]” Worse, the Bureau of Land Management had the audacity to assert that providing a public hearing or meeting “would not provide information that could be ascertained” from written comments.
This response is nothing short of a slap in the face to the American public. Rather than inviting and welcoming public engagement, the Bureau of Land Management is shutting it down.
The implication is clear: the Bureau of Land Management has no interest in listening to Americans. It’s another sad example of how the Trump Administration is steadily divesting the American public of their lands.
As we’ve highlighted, the Administration is moving to sell an unprecedented amount of public lands for fracking in the American West this year. Acre by acre, they’re putting our lands in the hands of the oil and gas industry. And, step by step, they’re excluding our voices and preventing us from speaking out.
Ultimately, the Bureau of Land Management’s denial of our request for public hearings around plans to auction Colorado public lands for fracking isn’t just an affront to Americans, it’s an affront to our American democracy.