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The West as Carbon Colony: Tempest Over Wild Lands and Unexploited Oil and Gas Leases

By John McChesney, Director of the Rural West Initiative

Energy companies and some congressional Republicans have been up in arms about Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s order 3310, from December 2010, for BLM to inventory public lands for “wilderness characteristics.” If the land is found to be worth protecting, it will receive the designation “Wild Lands.” Oil and gas drilling was put on hold in areas to be surveyed until decisions are made. Energy companies felt the order was a sneaky way to get new wilderness areas without congressional approval.

When asked about the charge that his administration was restraining domestic onshore drilling, here’s what President Obama said: “right now, the industry holds leases on tens of millions of acres — both offshore and on land — where they aren’t producing a thing. So I’ve directed the Interior Department to determine just how many of these leases are going undeveloped and report back to me within two weeks so that we can encourage companies to develop the leases they hold and produce American energy. People deserve to know that the energy they depend on is being developed in a timely manner."

Last modified Tue, 5 Jul, 2011 at 7:11