Earthjustice attorney Keith Bauerle told the newly formed Rocky Mountain Energy Council that developing oil and gas on public lands should occur only after the public, government officials, ranchers and other stakeholders consider, consult and plan thoroughly. The Rocky Mountain Energy Council is a group made up of federal officials and state officials tasked with speeding up the development of oil and gas on public lands. The lands being targeted are mostly concentrated on the east slope of the Rocky Mountains in Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, as well as Utah.
The Earthjustice attorney called for a “balanced approach to energy production and transmission that ensures that environmental protections, and other uses of the lands such as recreation and ranching, are not sacrificed in the name of “expediency” so that Exxon and Chevron can make a few more dollars.”
Bauerle warned the council not to be in such a hurry to expedite that it repeats the “expedited train wreck” that occurred in the Powder River Basin of Wyoming and Montana. There, over 20,000 oil and gas drilling permits were issued by the federal government for coalbed methane development before the impacts of coalbed methane development were known. Bauerle told the council, “There, the BLM ignored issues raised not only by the public, but also by the EPA, in making its decision to authorize the largest oil and gas project ever on federal lands. Furthermore, when the National Park Service asked for more time to review the predicted air impacts, the BLM said no. As a result of the agency’s rush to move full steam ahead and drill, its failure to involve the public and other agencies from the beginning and to address the issues they’ve raised, the BLM is facing four lawsuits from a variety of parties including ranchers, environmentalists, and Native Americans, challenging its decision. Instead of expediting energy production in its rush to authorize oil and gas drilling, the BLM has in its haste made waste.”