"Bush prepares parting shots"

On the eave of Bill Clinton’s leave from office his administration, among other things, issued orders protecting 60 million acres of public lands from further road development as well as protections for lands by designating National Monuments.  Robust moves like these are made at the hind-end of an administration as there is little threat of political consequence to a departing president.

The same is so with the Bush Administration – though you can imagine who’s benefiting this time around.

Bush prepares parting shots – Mark Jaffe – The Denver Post



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  1. vicki Avatar

    Would you mind commenting on the effects that drilling and exploration has shown to have on species located in the area? I think it might help people to see what impact this has, in a time when they are so concerned with paying for gas.
    I am also wondering, how monumental would the task be to figure out how much money the government spends to fight efforts to conserve vital habitats? It seems to me that the amount of money spent could have been better put to use developing alternative fuel sources.
    If not developing altrnative sources, how about putting hybrid vehicles into service where vehicles are currently used for the government? (ie: police cars, government vehicles, more light rail systems, school buses, etc.) I would think that those vehicles being traded out for hybrids would save barrel upon barrel of oil. That would have a huge effect on the environment. Or maybe they could convert government offices to solar power.
    It just seems to me that the amount of money pissed away on behalf of oil industries is phenominally wasteful.
    I imagine that the monies spent to litigate on behalf of oil industries could assure health care benefits for thousands of at-risk seniors and children in this country.

  2. vicki Avatar

    p.s. I recently heard that there was an OPEC meeting where OPEC members stated that the American banks were responsible for driving prices up, and were trying to bring those prices down. It seems unusual that these oil interests would be interested in seeing prices drop, unless ofcourse, demand has began shrinking as a result. Why not promote programs that would lessen our dependence on oil in general? If in fact this happened, we have shown we can effect the market without drilling in key habitats.
    Sorry, this just gets me so angry.

  3. Brian Ertz Avatar


    Oil and gas development is particularly harmful to wildlife dependent on the Sagebrush Sea (one of the most endangered landscapes in America). Oil & Gas development, especially the process involved in coalbed methane – uses a lot of water – depleting aquifers that wildlife is dependent upon. The fragmentation of the Sagebrush Sea involved with the infrustructure development (roads, power-lines, etc.) blocks migration corridors for mule deer, it breaks up the contiguous habitat necessary for sage grouse (as much as the oil & gas industry has tried to mitigate harm to sage grouse, it’s not working), pronghorn, pygmy rabbits, and any number of other important wildlife species. I can go into further detail if you like.

    The struggle to protect the Sagebrush Sea is laden with much frustration, a Bush Administration that’s handing out permits to drill like candy — trying to undercut the public’s legally established opportunity to comment and ensure proper environmental analysis — Categorical Exclusions (CXs). With and administration like this, NEPA is the mechanism to stop irresponsible development. The PR is, as usual, a lot more simple for Bush & his oil & gas cohorts. “National security” “Energy independence” etc. Fortunately, these talking points are having remarkably little effect – but the real question is how much effect they’ll have with the coming administration.

    Another problem to the Sagebrush Sea is attempts to develop some of the pristine Sagebrush Sea habitat for use to promote “green energy” (i.e. wind farms). I had a conversation while attending Idaho’s Democratic Convention this weekend in which a “conservationist” was aghast at efforts to prevent wind development on public land. Apparently, he didn’t realize who he was talking to. The same deleterious consequences to wildlife habitat as a result of the fragmentation following infrastructure (roads, lines, etc.) take place whether you’re looking for oil or wind which is why wind on marginal private ag land is green – but wind on pristine, public wildlife habitat is not green.

    But we are verging on important leverage in that regard with pending listings – most prominently the Greater sage grouse.

    The government has certainly wasted much money fighting environmental efforts. Both legally as well as internally with FOIA requests and such. The argument is often made that agencies would have more resource to conserve habitat if enviros would just lay off. My response is usually – “then stop breaking the law.” As well as that there is very little indication they would do much more than pursue further habitat manipulation projects at odds with the public environmental interest should they have that extra resource.

    Developing, and employing alternative and efficiency energy technologies we already have, is certainly key to alleviating both environmental problems as well as the fuel prices. People don’t often think – but energy demand is not limited to a particular technology if we were to be creative. That is to say – offsetting demand for oil by utilizing an alternative /efficiency energy will help alleviate cost of fuel just as much as if we were to just produce more oil. Unfortunately, the supply / demand question is a convoluted question. When Bush went to OPEC to try to encourage increase supply – it was a laughable (sad) attempt. I’ve read many analysts’ take on that trip. America has the power to strong arm OPEC into increasing production if it wanted to. Bush does not want to (IMHO). He’d rather use the “crisis” to attempt opening access to America’s public lands, to further line the pockets of his oil cronies, etc.

    Utilizing our public sector to invigorate infrastructure and markets to alternatives and efficiency technologies as you suggest is a good idea. Unfortunately, we’re further caught in a bind as American automobile manufacturing has turned a blind eye to such technologies. Mandating the purchase of foreign automobiles for all government vehicles would not bode well with Detroit. Hopefully that will change given Detroit’s finally waking up (Ralph posted a story about this).

    Jimmy Carter put a solar panel on the White House while in office. Ronald Reagan promptly tore it down. “Tear down that solar panel !”

    I agree with you Vicki, this dance is frustrating.

  4. Rick Hammel Avatar
    Rick Hammel

    Good post Brian. What ticks me off is there is new drilling technology coming out almost every day. For instance, Texas A&M has developed a pad that sits on “pier pilings.” 8 to 24 stantions that sit on a base plate, say 3 foot square. That equals 216 sq feet as compared to 3-6 acres.

    Anothr ladscape saving method is roads that roll up and are trucked away after drilling is complete.

    Then there is directional drilling. Using 1 down hole, drillers can get many different wells drilled, up to six miles away.

    Tailings is another issue. BLM has been saying that the tailing material is not good for roads. But Garfield County, Colorado, has tested this material and has found it suitable for their county road system.

    These and other technology breakthroughs were included in my comments on the local BLM resource management plan (RMP) that is about a year from completion. They are already a year behind schedule. So I will not know how the BLM has taken my comments. I don’t expect much change from the draft.

    I am not opposed to oil and gas drilling as long as the footprint is kept to a minimum. Drillers are very opposed to new technologies. They have been doing it this way for 100 years. Why are we forcing them to change?


  5. vicki Avatar

    Awesome information. I think at times we look at the problem at hand and forget that there are those becoming newly informed. So knowing basics is such an advantage to sorting this all out. I will, if I may, share this with some people I know.
    I can see former president ‘Hollywood’-may he rest in peace- saying “Take down that solar panel!” with his sun glasses and cowboy hat on.
    I know that the recent new about GM ceasing production of some it’s larger vehicles rocked the auto world. It is the tip of the iceberg. If detroit fails to see what Japan acknowledged sevral Honda and Toyotas ago, Detroit may soom be an even larger ghost town than it has already become. The manufacturers have the necessary tech savvy, they just need to get the funds to promote more manufacturing. Uncle Sam could help reduce dependence on foreign oil by agreeing to guarantee loans to upgrade assembly lines and to further production of feul cells that are environmentally and fiscally sound.
    So, instead of putting auto workers out of jobs, we could put them to work building a new government fleet of vehicles. They could be guaranteed funds to update their plants to build better green vehicles. I know the military has been experimenting with alternative fuel cells in vehicles.
    It is a matter of time. I just hope the time it takes doesn’t lead to extinctions of species we can never replace.

    Great info also. Knowing that these alternatives are available make me even more apt to load up and go knock on Governor Ritter’s door.
    It is a devastating fact that we could easily replace industry, but we can not replace our public lands and animals there in. Would the powers that be simply find creative solutions to the fears that come from changing, we’d not be in this bind. But, it is far too easy to accept contributions from bad guys then persuade them to spend money on the greater good.
    I’d like to hear more about these type of alternatives. Let me know when and where to get more information, please.

    Thanks to you both!!!!

    And hey, Brian, Happy Father’s Day, hope the kiddos keep you smiling and motivated.

  6. Monty Avatar

    Threats to our public lands are multi- factitive. July 08 article in Harper’s magazine, “Crimes Aganist Nature”, (The many uses of the Daniel Boone National Forest), is a “chilling”account of the destruction of a national forest in the “heartland of poverty” where everything and anything goes and the Bush administration has “starved the forest” to the point that the forest service has lost control.

    To quote part of the article: “many Americans flock to the forest, bringing with them their own ideas of “wilderness”. Aren’t they free to do anything here? Isn’t this dark wood a place where you are out from under rules, prying eyes, the law itself? And aren’t these cliffs and creeks full of treasure–wil game, morels, gas, coal, timber, and ancient arrowheads–there for the taking by anyone with enough pluck and clearness” Give American’s a few hundred thusand acres of untrammeled woods and we all become pioneers again”. Given time, is this Kentucky NF, the future of all public lands?

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Brian Ertz