Monday, December 8, 2008

BLM Ready for New Federal Resource Plan, Wants Your Comments

This is for the overall plan for all BLM lands in general, and not for any one specific area such as the BLMs Big Horn Basin Rescourse Management Plan which also needs our comments;

Hot News from Big-Mouth Broad Casting
Dec 5, 2008

BLM is ready for new federal resource plan

The Bureau of Land Management is taking public comment on a plan that will establish how oil, gas, coal, grazing, wildlife and other resources are managed for the next 20 years in the Powder River Basin.

BLM official Chris Hanson said the agency wants to hear from as many people as possible about their interests and worries so that the agency can incorporate them into a new management plan from the beginning. Comments are due by Jan. 5.

"Think of this plan as our road map for the next 20 years," Hanson, manager for the BLM's Buffalo field office, said. "This is the very front end of the process and we want to hear how you think we should manage the wildlife, the OHV (off-highway vehicles) access, grazing and these world class energy resources that we have here."

With more than 800,000 acres of surface land and 4.7 million acres of mineral estate holdings, BLM land in the Powder River Basin has become the final frontier for much of the region's energy developers. Most of the private energy resources in the area already have been developed.

A significant population of Western sage grouse — a possible candidate for the federal endangered species listing — also inhabit the area, a fact which has added extra tension to every decision the BLM has made on both issues in the past several years.

All comments by the public or any interested agencies made during the next 30 days will be incorporated into the so-called "scoping" phase of the process and will be used to guide the BLM on how it sets priorities, Hanson said.

He made it clear that because the BLM is a federal agency, it is obliged to also consider national concerns, such as domestic energy production.

Sheila Larsen of Gillette-based TLC Oil Tools and TLC Drilling said she isn't sure a 20-year plan can keep up with the fast-paced changes hitting the region.

"How can it possibly keep up with all the updates in technology?" she said. "Technology is changing by leaps and bounds. Look what we have learned about the water issues and water technology in just the past five years."

That's exactly why the BLM is asking for comment, Hanson said.

"I encourage you to think about things like alternative energy, clean coal, coal gasification and whether it is better to burn coal here and transmit the power via new transmission lines or add another railroad line," he said.

It is these kinds of big questions that the new plan is designed to assess, he said.

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