Does Pew's ad on the roadless rule get it right?

 

Editor's note: Sharon Friedman blogs on forest policy at "A New Century of Forest Planning" and will be posting occasionally on the Range blog.

In the Denver Post this morning, I saw the full page ad you see here below. I couldn’t figure out how to link to it, since it was an advertisement, but I did find out more about the campaign at Pew Environment's site, which also has a copy of the ad. (pdf)

Pew Ad

Note that the Pew Charitable Trusts has on its webpage:

“The Pew Charitable Trusts is driven by the power of knowledge to solve today’s most challenging problems. Pew applies a rigorous, analytical approach to improve public policy, inform the public and stimulate civic life.”

What I found questionable about “knowledge” was the statement, in the second paragraph of the ad.

Yet your administration is considering a plan that would open up many of these areas to new drilling, expanded logging, and coal mining.

Let's take "New drilling"

No one has yet explained how the proposed Colorado rule opens new areas to drilling. It would be interesting to have that discussion here, if someone can explain the thinking.

How about “Expanded logging?”

Is the “logging” intended to mean fuel treatments in the wildlife urban interface?

If so, many may be interested to know that individuals from some of the same groups named in the advertisement (when arguing why state rules were not needed) have said that the 2001 allows the same “logging” under the exception:

To maintain or restore the characteristics of ecosystem composition and structure, such as to reduce the risk of uncharacteristic wildfire effects, within the range of variability that would be expected to occur under natural disturbance regimes of the current climatic period.”

It seems intellectually inconsistent to say, on the one hand, that fuels treatments are allowed under the 2001 Roadless Rule, and then to later claim that fuels treatments are “expanded logging” and only allowed under the Colorado Rule.

Aside: Under the 2001 rule, “maintain or restore” fuels treatments are not restricted to 1/2 mile from communities, so it could be argued that the 2001 Rule, in fact, allows “expanded logging” compared to the Colorado Rule.

Finally, "and coal mining"

The exception that allows temporary roads (2-3 years) to vent methane from underground coal mines (not exactly the same image as “coal mining”, but...OK) was allowed in the proposal on 16-20K or so more acres than allowed under the 2001 Rule on (I think) one roadless area.

The way the statement is made “open up many to drilling, logging and coal mining” without an “or” instead of an “and” would indicate (if they are using standard English) that temporary roads for methane venting would be allowed on “many” roadless areas. Since the usual idea is that it takes more than one to be “many”, this is also not a fact.

So there are three assertions and 0/3 are, strictly speaking,true. Doesn’t seem very like a very “rigorous and analytical” approach to me. Just sayin’.

P.S. The Pew website refers to ” A letter from 520 leading scientists expressing concern about the Colorado proposal went to the administration in December 2009.” I remember one that was sent April 14, 2010.. (I wonder if there are really two?) that I posted this blog post about on Roger Pielke, Jr.'s blog here.

Essays in the Range blog are not written by the High Country News. The authors are solely responsible for the content.

Jeremy Nichols
Jeremy Nichols
Nov 21, 2011 01:06 PM
It's pretty off-base, and frankly ignorant, to claim that the Forest Service's recent decision to allow the West Elk Mine to expand into the Sunset Trail Roadless Area (a.k.a. West Elk Roadless Area) won't impact the roadless area. While an underground coal mine, West Elk is going to require several miles of road and dozens of methane venting. These are not 2-3 year impacts. Methane venting literally turns the land above the mine into a gas field. We've got three years now of photos showing what methane venting looks like above West Elk, check 'em out for yourself, http://www.flickr.com/[…]/. And while you're at it, check out our video highlighting the splendor of Sunset Trail and what these latest risks really mean, http://youtu.be/nxe66lNRxk4.

Before rushing to judgment like this, I think it is pretty important to realize what is really at stake here. Sunset Trail is an amazing place and it really would be a shame to lose it so that we can run a single coal-fired power plant for maybe a year.
    
Ted Zukoski
Ted Zukoski
Nov 21, 2011 01:52 PM
Contrary to Ms. Friedman’s statement, Pew’s ad is correct to criticize the “many” roadless areas that will be degraded through the coal mining loophole in the proposed Colorado “Roadless” Rule.
The 20,000 acres of roadless lands likely to be open to coal mining in the Colorado rule include the following four roadless areas as identified on the Forest Service’s own maps: Sunset and Flatirons (both West of Paonia), Pilot Knob (northwest of Paonia and a across a state highway from the previous two), and Falttops/Elk Park (north of Paonia). You can check this by downloading the 2011 Colorado Draft Roadless Rule map packet and looking at the map entitled “Statewide and Other Maps – North Fork Coal Mining Area.” Bill Koch’s Oxbow Mining company is also pushing hard for the rule to allow road-building in a fifth roadless area (Currant Creek), and Oxbow may get what it wants. So “many” is accurate.
And regardless of the number of roadless areas at stake, these places will be hammered. The Forest Service has already approved a coal lease in the Sunset roadless area that will result in 6.5 miles of new road in a 1,450 acre area under the Colorado Rule – more than 2 miles of road for every square mile. Add to that the 48 one-acre well pads bulldozed for methane drainage wells – or 16 wells per square miles. These impacts will be spread so that the entire 1,450 acre will be a spider-web of roads and development denuded of vegetation.
If West Elk’s activities just outside the roadless area are any indicator, this is not a light-on-the-landscape operation. Hill-sides are carved out as well as ridge-tops. See http://www.flickr.com/[…]/.
The draft Colorado rule does not limit the roads to 2-3 years on the landscape, as Ms. Friedman suggests. When you add in the time roads will be built and maintained for coal exploration, and the roads may be in existence for years longer.
And reclamation will take years if not decades, especially where (as in the Sunset roadless area), road bulldozing for coal mines will occur in mature aspen and conifer forests at 8,000 feet elevation where growing seasons are short. Pre-mining conditions won’t be restored for many decades.
These types of impacts are why the Forest Service itself concluded in the 2001 Rule that the impacts of temporary roads were about the same as those for permanent and barred both temp and permanent roads in roadless areas.
In sum, the Colorado Roadless Rule EIS projects 34 more miles of road will be built for coal mines in roadless areas than under the 2001 National Roadless Rule.
And that’s why the 2001 Roadless Rule is better for roadless areas than the weaker Colorado Rule, and why President Obama should nix the Colorado Rule.
Ted Zukoski
Ted Zukoski
Nov 21, 2011 02:01 PM
And just to be clear, when I said "the entire 1,450 acre will be a spider-web of roads and development denuded of vegetation," I meant that the entire area will be criss-crossed with a spider-web of roads and development, and that those developed area will be denuded of vegetation, not that the entire 1,450-acre area would be denuded. Mea culpa.
Peter Hart
Peter Hart
Nov 21, 2011 02:51 PM
I'm happy to hear a Forest Service employee imply that there will be no new drilling within roadless areas under the proposed Colorado Rule. Can we take that as official agency policy?
Sharon Friedman
Sharon Friedman Subscriber
Nov 21, 2011 09:52 PM
Jeremy, and Ted- It’s great to have these kinds of discussions out in the open in public. Thanks for participating.

Jeremy- I didn’t say it wouldn’t impact any given roadless area. I said it wasn’t impacting MANY roadless areas.
You stated that “These are not 2-3 year impacts. Methane venting literally turns the land above the mine into a gas field.” I don’t know what you mean by a “gas field” but there are temporary roads, as on the video, and well pads. Those are reclaimed after they are used.
I have a photo of a reclaimed well pad..here on the NCFP blog..http://ncfp.wordpress.com/[…]/#comment-5195
 if the roads and wellpads are reclaimed after their use for 2-3 years, how long does it take to get back to this state? The point is that roadless areas are impacted but through time they will return to their previous condition.
 
Ted- I don’t think four is usually considered to be “many”. The actual statement from the advertisement was ” open up many of these areas to new drilling, expanded logging, and coal mining.“ Here’s the definition of “many” from Merriam –Webster:
1. consisting of or amounting to a large but indefinite number <worked for many years>
2. being one of a large but indefinite number <many a man> <many another student>

Now, in this case, the number is certainly not “indefinite.” Of course, perhaps if it were a total of 7 roadless areas, you could say “many of the 7” and mean 4.

However, as it says in the proposed Rule, Section 294.49 List of Designated
Colorado Roadless Areas There are 363 Colorado Roadless Areas in the proposed rule; an increase
of 18 CRAs from the July 2008 Proposed Rule.

I don’t think most people would think 4/363 is “many.”
You also said “These types of impacts are why the Forest Service itself concluded in the 2001 Rule that the impacts of temporary roads were about the same as those for permanent and barred both temp and permanent roads in roadless areas.”
But your organization has also argued that pipelines, such as the Bull Mountain pipeline, were the same in environmental impacts as temporary roads. Yet, the courts seem to think that those (pipelines) are allowed by the 2001 Rule, and the Colorado Rule places restrictions on them. So here it seems that the Colorado Rule is more protective against these impacts of what you argued were, in fact, “temporary roads” .
You also stated that:
“In sum, the Colorado Roadless Rule EIS projects 34 more miles of road will be built for coal mines in roadless areas than under the 2001 National Roadless Rule. And that’s why the 2001 Roadless Rule is better for roadless areas than the weaker Colorado Rule, and why President Obama should nix the Colorado Rule.”
According to your statement, of all prohibitions and restrictions in the Colorado Rule, the only one of importance are the miles of road in the North Fork Coal Area. Somehow allowing temporary methane drainage wells and roads on 20,000 acres outweighs including in Colorado roadless 409,500 acres left “unprotected” in the 2001 Rule.

Peter Hart-

The question is not “will there be more drilling” but “will there be more drilling than that allowed under the provisions of the 2001 Rule?”. That is a key distinction. When the advertisement states:

“Yet your administration is considering a plan that would open up many of these areas to new drilling,”

It implies that there will be more drilling than allowed under the 2001 Rule.
The fact is that the Colorado Rule does not allow roads for development of new leases.

If the italicized statement is intended to be about the so-called “gap leases” issued during the time period that the 2001 was not in effect (enjoined or other reason), then the legal question is simply if those leases were issued legally with the stipulations they had at the time or not. This is how I think about it. I’d like to know where your views differ.

If the courts decide that a specific lease that allowed roads was issued legally, then they are grandfathered in under both rules.

If the courts decide that a specific lease should have been issued with no-roads stipulations then the lease is allowed no roads under either rule.

If the lease were issued with the stipulation that “current regulatory restrictions apply with regard to roads” then both 2001 and Colorado are the same in saying “no roads.”

So there must be a specific situation that you are thinking of where you think that if the Colorado Rule were in place, existing leases would be treated differently than under 2001. It would be helpful to know which situations those are, and to how many acres that situation applies.
Sharon Friedman
Sharon Friedman Subscriber
Nov 21, 2011 10:05 PM
Also, Jeremy, you said
"Sunset Trail is an amazing place and it really would be a shame to lose it so that we can run a single coal-fired power plant for maybe a year."

I don't think allowing MDW's for a period of time is "losing it." Doing a land exchange would be "losing it."

I also think that the point of getting coal from the North Fork is not to run coal plants longer.. and supercompliant coal is less environmentally damaging than other coal. If North Fork coal is not available, some other coal will be found to run those plants.
Shayan Ghajar
Shayan Ghajar
Nov 21, 2011 11:50 PM
Sharon, you state above that the roads are "temporary" and will be "reclaimed after they are used." However, it has been made clear that the steep slopes of the areas subject to new roads will be subject to massive runoff and erosion as a result of the significant changes to be wrought by new construction. The roads and mining will alter the mineral cycle and soil composition and thereby alter the biodiversity and state of the plants (and then animals) on the sites.

One thing that is very clear in most literature on the subject of reclamation is that the land is never the same as it was before a significant disturbance. In a non-equilibrium situation, a disturbance may permanently tip the successional stages of an ecosystem into an entirely new direction, leading to a fundamentally different landscape.

Consequently, when 500 scientists sign a letter in the hundreds in opposition to the site, I don't feel the permanent risks are worth the very temporary gain.

From their letter:
"Colorado, which contains over 4 million acres of inventoried roadless areas, proposed exemptions in their draft rule would impact at least 246,000 acres of inventoried roadless areas by removing them from the national inventory or degrading them by eliminating many restrictions on logging and road building. This would allow approximately 100 oil and gas leases in prime hunting and fishing areas, additional coal mining and exploration, expansion of ski areas, and many other provisions that could have long-term negative consequences to these vital landscapes. Fossil fuel development in these areas also contributes to the build up of greenhouse gas pollutants."

http://www.ourforests.org/[…]/scientist_letter500apr2010.pdf
Shayan Ghajar
Shayan Ghajar
Nov 22, 2011 12:13 AM
*in opposition to the policy, I meant. I was thinking of the reclaimed site you linked to when I typed that.

Speaking of that site, it clearly may be taken as an example of a shifted ecological state. Before, it was forest (what kind, by the way?). Now, it seems to be characterized by bunchgrasses and small forbs. Are the grasses native? Are the forbs? Will the site transition back to a forest, and if so, how?
Ted Zukoski
Ted Zukoski
Nov 22, 2011 01:50 AM
Sharon:

You said the Colorado “Roadless” Rule’s coal mining loophole would impact (you thought) one roadless area. My point is that a quick check of your own agency’s text showed that assumption to be wrong, that the Colorado rule would permit road construction in 4-5 areas, which is 4-5 areas more areas than could be bulldozed and roaded under the 2001 Rule.

If you disagree with Pew that 4 or 5 counts as “many,” I suppose that’s your right.

I take it your next argument is that Colorado Rule is more restrictive than the 2001 Roadless Rule when it comes to permitting temporary road for pipeline construction.

But page 87 of the 2011 Draft EIS on the Colorado Rule makes plain the important bottom line: that the Colorado Rule will result in more miles of temporary road construction, and more miles of total road construction, than the 2001 Roadless Rule. Simply put, no matter what it says about roads for pipelines, the Colorado Rule will lead to more roads in roadless areas.

Finally, I’ve never understood the argument that one should accept the bulldozing of roads in 20,000 acres of beautiful, wild roadless lands to bolster coal company stock prices because the total acreage covered by the Colorado Rule is greater than that covered by the 2001 Roadless Rule.

First, on an apples-to-apples comparison, 4-5 specific roadless areas will be fully protected under the 2001 Roadless Rule, but criss-crossed with roads and well pads under the Colorado Rule loophole. The lands burdened by the coal mining loophole are definitively less protected under the Colorado Rule.

Second, the acreage under the Colorado Rule is greater because the Forest Service updated some roadless inventories between 2000 and 2011. Nothing prevents the Forest Service from protecting subsequently identified roadless areas to the full extent of the 2001 Roadless Rule.

To the contrary, the 2001 Roadless Rule would allow these additional lands to be covered by that Rule’s protections. The 2001 Rule identifies the roadless areas it protects as: “Areas identified in a set of inventoried roadless area maps [in the Roadless Rule 2000 EIS] … or any subsequent update or revision of those maps.”

The Forest Service could update its maps (with appropriate NEPA compliance) for the 2001 Rule to add these additional lands. The purported tradeoff of coal lands degraded for more roadless acres protected is thus a false choice.

Sadly, the Forest Service seems determined that Colorado roadless areas receive less protection than similar areas across the border in Utah, Wyoming, and New Mexico. And that’s the shame the Pew ad correctly pointed out.
John Sangster
John Sangster
Nov 22, 2011 08:22 AM
I'm confident that working with the Governor and with the public, we will craft a final rule that is, on balance, at least as protective of roadless areas -- and preferably more protective -- than the 2001 Roadless Rule." Sec. Vilsack, April 6, 2010; Press Release.

Sharon - With all the loopholes for oil & gas leases, coal mining, etc ... how can one honestly say that this proposed state rule is as strong as the national roadless rule? and that is will protect our forests in CO in an equivilent matter? You have dedicated years to managing our public lands, and we are greatful, but have you actually read the black & white language of the proposed rule?

President Obama promised to defend and uphold the roadless rule, and he should live up to it. "Road construction in national forests can harm fish and wildlife habitats while polluting local lakes, rivers, and streams. The Roadless Area Conservation Rule—which was made on the basis of extensive citizen input—protects 58.5 million acres of national forest from such harmful building. I will be proud to support and defend it." - Sen. Barack Obama (former) AND “National Forest roadless areas provide essential habitat for a broad range of plant and animal species, and clean drinking water. As president, Barack Obama will fight to protect roadless areas on Forest Service lands from all new road construction.”
http://www.barackobama.com/[…]/Obama_FactSheet_Western_Sportsmen.pdf

The CO rule was crafted based on politics and not good lands policy, and it is a shame. Our national forests are vital to our future, to our economy, to our little "forest friends", for our families, ... the list goes on. It is up to the USFS, the Administration to take care of these lands, not for politics & profit, but for all Americans.

John
Durango, CO
Sharon Friedman
Sharon Friedman Subscriber
Nov 22, 2011 10:41 AM
Shayan- people have been restoring/reclaiming land for many years. It is a well-known field of study and practice. There are standards both for road construction that minimize runoff and other negative impacts.
You said “In a non-equilibrium situation, a disturbance may permanently tip the successional stages of an ecosystem into an entirely new direction, leading to a fundamentally different landscape.” Perhaps that is true in a generic sense, but that has seldom, if ever, been observed in practice for temporary roads. People have actually observed many temporary roads being built and rehabbed, and I don’t think that that has ever happened.
You also said “Consequently, when 500 scientists sign a letter in the hundreds in opposition to the site, I don't feel the permanent risks are worth the very temporary gain.”
I pointed out in the XTreme Science Advocacy piece here (http://rogerpielkejr.blogsp[…]advocacy-guest-post-by.html) a couple of things- they weren’t all scientists, and they weren’t basing their observations on the April 2010 version of the proposed rule (even though their letter waso published after that version). Since then we have had another iteration (spring 2011) and the scientist letter from 2010 is clearly not depicting what they think about the spring 2011 version.
Now I am close to being the least political person on the planet, but even I can figure that with a D Governor in Colorado and a D administration in the White House, that between 2010 and 2011 the proposal would probably go in a more protective direction. That’s why when the Pew folks state in their post here (http://www.pewenvironment.o[…]o-roadless-plan-85899366682):
“Within the past two years, the administration has received more than 200,000 messages from the public criticizing the Colorado proposal and calling for the state’s 4.4 million acres of national forests to receive the protections of the 2001 rule. A letter from 520 leading scientists expressing concern about the Colorado proposal went to the administration in December 2009. “
First, the letter was dated April 14, 2010. So maybe it went to the administration in 2009, but ???. ”. Does Pew not realize that there have been two revised versions (2010 and 2011) since the scientists’ letter was drafted? Both moving in a more protective direction?
 Further, “The scientists’ effort was under the auspices of the Pew Environment Group, the conservation arm of the Pew Charitable Trusts. “ Going back to “rigorous and analytical” on the Pew webpage, wouldn’t you want to refer to critiques of the current version, not two versions back?
You also said, “Speaking of that site, it clearly may be taken as an example of a shifted ecological state. Before, it was forest (what kind, by the way?). Now, it seems to be characterized by bunchgrasses and small forbs. Are the grasses native? Are the forbs? Will the site transition back to a forest, and if so, how? Speaking of that site, it clearly may be taken as an example of a shifted ecological state. Before, it
was forest (what kind, by the way?). Now, it seems to be characterized by bunchgrasses and small forbs. Are the grasses native? Are the forbs? Will the site transition back to a forest, and if so, how?”
It looks like an oak, which traditionally may have been oak interspersed with burned areas. But your question about restoration techniques is a different question.. certainly it is known how to revegetate with native species and get trees to come back. If people haven’t included the “right” requirements for restoration, that’s a different (and technical, among restoration ecologists) conversation.

Ted- I agree that there are four roadless areas with pieces of North Fork Coal in the proposal. The point is whether one or four, there are not “many.”
You said “Sadly, the Forest Service seems determined that Colorado roadless areas receive less protection than similar areas across the border in Utah, Wyoming, and New Mexico. And that’s the shame the Pew ad correctly pointed out.”
Again, the 2001 Rule allows linear construction zones for pipeline construction without the restrictions in the Colorado Rule. Your organization has argued that LCZ’s are the equivalent of temporary roads. Therefore the 2001 Rule being in place in Wyoming , New Mexico and Utah (also oil and gas producers) means that they are likely to have more of these pipelines going through roadless areas (because the 2001 does not provide restrictions), So it is not clear to me that it as simple as you say that they provide “less protection.”
Philosophically, though,
“Finally, I’ve never understood the argument that one should accept the bulldozing of roads in 20,000 acres of beautiful, wild roadless lands to bolster coal company stock prices.”
I don’t think it’s about “bolstering company stock prices.” At the current time, coal is one of our energy sources. It can be produced in Colorado, Wyoming (also some on public land) or other places (at greater or lesser environmental cost). So where are the associated work and jobs going to be? To me it’s a complex question of whether the environmental effects are greater here or there, and the social and economic benefits more needed here or there. We are not weaning ourselves off coal in the near term, so it is going to those power plants from somewhere.
As most folks know, I am generally a fan of the concepts of the 2001 Rule, but I think it would have been a better rule with more localized economic and social analysis of what was being foregone (and correct maps with real roadless instead of roaded roadless). For example, this 20K tradeoff was never analyzed as far as I know in the EIS’s. Perhaps it was “too small” in the eyes of some for a national rule, but it is very real to people who live and work in the area.
And again, I’m not sure the difference with 2001 is 20K acres at all. Some of the area was leased prior to 2001. To put it in perspective , there are 4,243,600 acres in the Colorado Rule, if my read of the Proposed Rule is correct.
John, I would argue that there are not “ loopholes” for oil and gas leases. I would have to be shown exactly what those leases are, and why people think the court outcomes of their legality would be different under the different rules.
Yes, I have read the language (and all the previous versions back to the State Task Force report!).
You said “The CO rule was crafted based on politics and not good lands policy, and it is a shame.”
That’s an interesting observation… two Democratic governors, one Republican, one Republican President and one Democratic President and one Republican governor were involved in the Colorado Rule development process. One Democratic President was involved in the development of the 2001 Rule. I would argue that in Colorado, different sides engaged for six years in discussions and debates about the right way to go. It went before a national advisory committee with representatives of all persuasion (the RACNAC). There were ongoing public involvement processes. Depending on what you mean by “political” I would argue that it is less “political” than the 2001.
Andrew V Sipocz
Andrew V Sipocz
Nov 22, 2011 12:39 PM
Sharon: I see one species of Panicum and one of some other grass in the photo you linked to of a restored methane venting well pad. That in no way constitutes proof of restoration. That would be like stating a clear-cut old growth redwood forest that sprouted a thicket of seeded grass was restored. My analogy is extreme, but in the vent photos on Flicker posted by this blog's commentors I see many different species of trees, shrubs and grasses around the existing well pads. Ecological restoration of well pads, roads, damaged pastures, former crop lands, mine tailings, etc. entails a lot of science and often years of monitoring. The record of success is not good. Just to have something green and growing on a restored site means little. The success of restoring sites to their former botanical and faunal richness has been poor whether in reference to western sage, grasslands or forestlands.

I'll say from experience; to be a half decent botanist means I see every scar ever bestowed on the landscape everywhere I go. It can be depressing. But not nearly so much as when yet another floristically diverse site is given over to development and then called healed the first moment is sprouts up with something green planted by otherwise well-meaning persons.
Sharon Friedman
Sharon Friedman Subscriber
Nov 22, 2011 06:32 PM
Andrew- You're right, I shouldn't have used that phrase "restored" because it is unclear, especially about what it means to be "restored" under climate change.

One of the topics we frequently discuss in various venues is whether we should manage for "what used to be" or "resilience to change". It was never very scientific to determine that "what used to be" is "what should be." I always call that a convenient untruth. I should have said "this is what it looks like post revegetation." Apparently some elk find it to be a good source of food.

You seem to be saying that the people who developed the prescription for (let's just call it "revegetation" ) might not have done what you think best; that's worthy of discussion.

I, too, am a botanist. Perhaps the world would be fine with no "development" but I recognize that agriculture, water, housing, and energy are all necessary part of our 20th century life, and all require some changes to the landscape. My point was that some are more permanent than others, and this is not as permanent as many of the changes.

My point was that the other photos shown depicted the impacts for some period of time; for a longer period of time the site will look as depicted in this photo.
 
I said that restoring plants and animals is an art and a science, and it is fine to say "what they are doing is wrong and could be better by doing something different."

But things will never be what they were in the past. Some scientists have argued for planting different species than the past on the basis of what they think might grow in the future based on climate models..I wouldn't do this, but I would consider planting more diverse genetic sources than I would have pre-climate change.

Shayan Ghajar
Shayan Ghajar
Nov 22, 2011 08:07 PM
Thank you Andrew, that's what I was trying to say but without much success.

As for some changes being necessary evils, when you add up these little evils you have climate change, denuded landscapes, and corporations who declare no ecosystem, park, refuge, or backyard to be sacred.

Some things will never be what they were in the past, true. But only if you go out of your way to destroy them. Otherwise, they were fine before you got there.

I don't want my children to grow up in such a world.
Andrew V Sipocz
Andrew V Sipocz
Nov 23, 2011 10:42 AM
Sharon: maybe we can agree that for the most part oil, gas, coal and other extractive industries are willing to fund good restoration of temporary use sites; but they crave certainty and especially a short time during which they are responsible for taking care of a restoration site. These desires along with overwhelmed federal field staff often lead to less than desirable outcomes.

If the extractive companies want to reduce the opposition to their use of federal lands they should strongly ask Washington to better fund the agencies that are tasked with taking care of these lands rather than trying to beat them down with western legislators.

Throwing more consultants at a problem may give industry a feeling that they are in control of their destiny, but consultants do a job and then move on. They are also often inexperienced. Industry needs to bite the bullet and accept that there is a role for government in their business model.
Sharon Friedman
Sharon Friedman Subscriber
Nov 23, 2011 05:29 PM
Shayan, there are plenty of regulations to make sure that the land is not denuded (plus different ownerships and property rights). Our world is not as bad as it could be, not as good as it might be. I wish everyone who is less hopeful about the future of our environment could take the same trip I took this summer through Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Alberta, BC, Yukon and Alaska. It is all of our challenge to meet our needs without destroying out children's future.

Andrew- if I were a company, I would prefer, rather than to advocate for more "watchers" to make a legally binding agreement that says something like "we think it will cost (x)$ per year to revegetate and monitor. Therefore, we will now put x times z (for number of years) dollars into a fund with a not for profit organization to fund these activities into the future. We will also have a legally binding agreement up to q dollars if monitoring shows that our other practices are not working and that we need to go back and restart."

I think that this would be a more direct approach than buying more regulators and watchers. But perhaps others have more experience with these kinds of things?