March 23, 2015

BLM’s new fracking rules strike middle groundHigh Country News

After four years of study and 1.5 million public comments, the U.S. Department of Interior on March 20 unveiled new rules governing hydraulic fracturing of oil and natural gas resources overseen by the Bureau of Land Management. While the first official draft was fairly protective and a second was significantly weakened, this final version appears to be squarely between the two – predictably falling short of what many environmental groups hoped for, and going beyond what industry groups seem willing to live with. -- 3/20/2015

 

Sportsmen’s bill aims to open inaccessible public landsHigh Country News

Senator Martin Heinrich, D-New Mexico, was hunting Barbary sheep in the southeastern part of his state a few weeks ago, and had a stark reminder of a problem he’s trying to fix with a bipartisan sportsmen’s bill.

He and his friends had finished hunting one swath of public land, and scanned a BLM map for the kind of terrain the sheep like—rough arid landscapes like that of their native North Africa, with lots of small canyons, nooks and crannies. The men found a place that looked to be accessible by road.

But when they arrived, there was a gate across the road and a “No Trespassing” sign.

“The landowner closed off what used to be public access and now you can’t get to the public land,” Heinrich told me in a recent interview in his office in the Hart Senate Office Building in D.C., where hunting trophies—including Barbary sheep skulls and horns—share wall space with photos of gorgeous New Mexico scenery “That is not unusual. If you talk to sportsmen, particularly in the West, access is the number one issue: You hear it over and over again.” -- 3/14/2015