I am writing to address a front page article in the Montrose Daily Press on Jan. 23 entitled "State BLM head says gas lease decision sound." This is an intentionally misleading article that seeks to pit the coal industry against those in our community concerned about oil and gas development.
BLM state director Helen Hankins, Uncompahgre Field Office manager Barbara Sharrow and state deputy director Lonnie Bagley recently met with the town councils in Crawford, Paonia, and Hotchkiss. These were not meetings to hear the concerns of residents or town governments, but sessions put on to justify and defend the decision already made by Colorado BLM to proceed with its Feb. 14 lease sale. BLM made numerous suggestions about how the towns could accommodate, at their own expense, the coming of the oil and gas industry. A disturbing new line of argument made an appearance: that because the area already has some coal development, it should be labeled an industrial zone and subject to regulations appropriate for industrial zones.
In a rambling explanation of the RMP process, Ms. Hankins suggested that opponents to the lease sale would also be using the RMP to demand limitations on allowances for the coal mines. This met with a disturbing silence. It is an outright lie.
There is no reason why removing parcels from the Feb. 14 lease sale should have any effect on the completely different operations of coal.
I would like to see my home forever protected from further oil and gas development. But I do not in any way begrudge my neighbors their coal mining jobs. I deeply resent that BLM is so intent on deploying the oil and gas industry in the North Fork Valley that they would resort to these divisive tactics.