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The BLM chooses to say 'yes'

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John Leshy is correct when he states in your Sept. 4, 2006, article "When Can the BLM Say ‘No’?" that "It’s absolutely clear that the agencies have discretion (about offering leases)." The BLM’s attitude that it has "little authority to prevent drilling," is the consequence of a self-imposed Bush administration policy not required by any federal law. This policy was imposed via an internal "instruction memorandum" in February 2004, without any opportunity for public review and comment. It was instituted by administration officials in their ongoing effort to make oil and gas development the BLM’s foremost priority. It has nothing to do with the agency’s mandate to protect and manage the public lands for natural resource and environmental values — including the public drinking water supplies of Grand Junction and Palisade, Colo. The BLM is not required by any statute to issue an oil and gas lease just because someone says they want one.

Dave Alberswerth,
The Wilderness Society
Washington, D.C.

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