Monday, May 17, 2010

Public News Service--Former Land Managers: Look at Onshore Drilling Safety, Too

May 17, 2010
CASPER, Wyo. - The Gulf of Mexico oil spill has led Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to announce there will be reforms on how leases are granted for offshore drilling. Meanwhile, 60 former land managers have sent him a letter about onshore drilling, asking him to finalize reforms he announced in January.

Gloria Flora formerly supervised the largest national forest in the Lower 48 states, the Humboldt-Toiyabe, where she dealt with what she saw as the destruction of natural resources. She signed onto the letter because she claims accidents happen almost everywhere there is production - with Wyoming having more issues than many other states in recent years.

"We've seen problems crop up continuously with onshore oil and gas drilling, and so you do wonder what it's going to take."

Mike Dombeck, former Chief of the U.S. Forest and director of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, also has signed the letter. His point is restoration of balance in all uses of public lands, instead of making development a priority.

"We should protect the health of the land that includes hunting and fishing and grazing and all the other uses, and have that be on an equal plane with oil and gas development."

Oil and gas companies say they take safety seriously; they accuse environmental groups of taking advantage of the Gulf accident to try to ban all domestic production.

The letter to Secretary Salazar does not call for a halt in drilling. It recommends a middle ground that allows development to continue, but be more tightly monitored.

Deb Courson, Public News Service - WY

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