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BLM’s proposal to open to development 98% of 650,000 acres of public land in its Lewistown Bureau is part of a trend by BLM to ignore local interests in favor of the oil, gas and mining interests.

Across the West, BLM is riding roughshod over local input and the professional advice of its regional staff to satisfy the wishes of the extractive industry. Just look at Uncompahgre, Colorado, where BLM is proposing to open 95% of 675,000 acres of public lands to oil and gas development. Or southeastern Oregon, where BLM is proposing to leave unprotected every single acre of the million that BLM identified as having wilderness characteristics.

In each of these examples, and many more, the oil, gas, and mining companies have been given unprecedented access to decision makers in Washington. Once BLM proposals reach Washington, the work of government scientists, land managers, and local officials are routinely discarded, always in favor of oil, gas and mining interests.

I have worked across the West for 15 years on behalf of public land managers, yet Washington’s takedown of a balanced approach to land management in favor of monied interests is unlike anything I have seen before.

Things will only change if enough of us reach out to BLM and our elected officials and let them know that oil and mining companies are not their only constituents.

Chandra Rosenthal

Rocky Mountain director

Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (peer.org)

Denver

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