The rural areas of the West especially need their elected representatives to pay attention to the voices of small communities as the energy boom (which we know will someday go bust) plays itself out over the coming years. Hats off to State Representative Sal Pace, who heard those voices and took the important step of contacting Interior Secretary Ken Salazar's office and asking for the North Fork leases to be deferred.
Representative Pace, who is running against Scott Tipton for Congress, showed he has his priorities straight in defending the rights of small town America to the due process they deserve as decisions that affect their homes, their health, and their livelihoods are made. With all the many factors that make farming in the West difficult, having to deal with the uncertainty around water is probably the most challenging. That's why a sigh of relief went up throughout the North Fork Valley when the BLM decided to withdraw 22 parcels from the August gas leasing auction. As more and more input flowed into the BLM's office from the community regarding those potential leases it became apparent that there was woefully insufficient hydrological data for the BLM to base its decision on. I commend them for withdrawing the parcels and for their commitment to conduct more hydrologic and socio-economic impact studies. It is the right thing to do and they did it.
Thanks also go out to State Senator Gail Schwartz and to the offices of Senators Bennet and Udall whose staff visited the valley, met with the locals and listened to their concerns. For those who think that without energy development this area would be a ghost town, I suggest a visit to the cliff dwellings of Mesa Verde. It goes without saying that there is no life, here or anywhere else, without adequate clean water.
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