For the Beauty of the Earth
One of the treasures saved by prompt action on the part of the incoming administration, Arches National Park.
It took almost two weeks! Interior Secretary Salazar, now confirmed, revoked the past maladministration's attempts to despoil this country. We have a new outlook, that protects the country instead of violating it.
The benefits to our future generations are immeasurable.
In a clear signal that the Obama administration is shifting the government's approach to energy exploration on public lands, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar yesterday canceled oil and gas leases on 77 parcels of federal land after opponents said the drilling would blight Utah's scenic southeastern corner.
Salazar's decision -- which reverses the Bush administration's move to allow drilling on about 130,000 acres near pristine areas such as Nine Mile Canyon, Arches National Park and Dinosaur National Monument -- is one of a series of steps that the new administration and congressional Democrats are planning to reshape federal regulation of drilling, mining, lumbering and other resource-tapping activities, both on U.S. soil and offshore.
Next week the House Natural Resources Committee will hold the first in a series of scheduled hearings on offshore oil drilling, the policies on which Salazar has said he intends to revamp in consultation with Congress. Salazar is also reviewing a rule easing commercial oil shale development; he must decide what federal parcels to offer in pending lease sales in the West; and he will have to decide in the coming months on land-management plans for areas in Colorado and Wyoming that contain valuable resources as well as imperiled species and wilderness habitat.
On Tuesday, Salazar pulled eight parcels from an imminent lease sale in Wyoming after Gov. Dave Freudenthal (D) asked for a more detailed review.
Yesterday's decision did not resolve another controversy surrounding the Dec. 19 lease sale: U.S. Attorney Brett L. Tolman is still considering whether to press charges against University of Utah economics student Tim DeChristopher, who bid $1.8 million and won 13 of the leases even though he never intended to pay for them.
"The decision to withdraw the leases does not wipe the slate clean," Tolman said in a statement.
A hero's parade should be held for DeChristopher, instead of punitive measures. His brave move prevented harm to this country that could never be undone. A well will eventually play out and be filled, leaving a plug of concrete where nothing will ever grow, or graze. The oil or gas will be burned and pollute the atmosphere, or turned into carbon based products like those littering our landscape now.
Thanks to President Obama, and Secretary Salazar for this quick action. Thanks to DeChristopher for doing a brave and wise thing for his country, as well.
This was brought to my attention by Dan Froomkin.