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President-Elect Obama's Team Hints At Reversing BLM Leasing Decisions in Utah



A decision by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to open thousands of acres of public lands abutting national park properties in Utah could be halted by President-elect Barack Obama once he takes office, according to his transition team.

"They want to have oil and gas drilling in some of the most sensitive, fragile lands in Utah," John Podesta, who heads the transition team, said Sunday on a Fox network news show. "I think that's a mistake."

It was on Election Day when BLM officials in Utah announced they planned next month to offer 360,000 acres for oil and natural gas leases. Some of the proposed leases lie adjacent to or near Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, and Dinosaur National Monument.

Mr. Podesta did not say, however, how the incoming president could reverse any leases auctioned off by the BLM before he takes office.


Lone Hiker -

An interesting summary of our relationship with the rest of the world in terms of energy, and our overall "energy policy." I agree with much of what you say.

I certainly agree with you on the need to emphasize development of alternative energy sources. That, along with wiser use of all sources of energy, is the only long-term solution to our energy problem. Yes, we'll continue to need oil and gas as well, but we need to minimize our dependence on it as quickly as possible, for economic, geopolitical, national security and environmental reasons.

Hey - another fan of Ponderosa pines! Unfortunately, we don't have them where I live, but I sure enjoy that wonderful smell whenever I'm back in Ponderosa territory.
(For benefit of anyone who is wondering what we're talking about, on a warm day a mature Ponderosa pine has a faint but wonderful odor that reminds many people of vanilla - or cream soda. If the weather is right, you can enjoy the aroma just by standing in a large grove of the trees, but for the full effect, you've got to become one of those "tree huggers," and just get your nose right up next to the bark of a large tree.)

And finally, to the point made by Mr. Burnett regarding his position that "One of our major problems is that we've never had a truly viable and comprehensive national energy plan." I think I get the general drift of your intentions here, but I believe that years ago our government decided on and committed to the path of the national energy "policy" by conducting what we would now consider rudimentary evaluations of the future needs of the still developing nation, estimating that the existing reserves in east Texas, California, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma etc. were insufficient to sustain the growth, and saw the middle eastern desert reserves and the local governments as exploitable. They "befriended" those who possessed the largest resource and proceeded to sell our nation's soul to the devil, striking an accord that in essence comes down to the following: "We'll supply (i.e. you'll pay us for the rights) the technology to develop your fields and make you the richest nation on earth, we'll back your regime and do anything necessary to insure domestic stability, politically speaking, and "protect" you from foreign insurgents by stationing our military personnel on your soil. In return, we agree to turn a blind eye and ear to how you conduct day-to-day affairs internally, and we would also expect some considerations in terms of production levels and pricing structures that favor our domestic national interests. We'll continue to supply any and all resources that you require for additional development of your fields, and even assist in your desires to become the local ruling and producing behemoth in the region. We'll assist in overthrowing and/or undermining any local government that causes you an uncomfortable level of concern to your long-term economic health. And we would appreciate you remembering how you got to where you are in the world, and where you would be without our assistance."

Ah, another in a long series of shining examples of how our country attempts to conduct its expansionistic form of world domination through capitalistic manipulation.

This scenario played out all well and good short term, as it allowed for our country's economy to expand, our technology to have steady access to a major tool of development, and furthered our military stranglehold on a region that we couldn't allow the "Red Devils" to gain access to first, thereby effectively isolating us from the world's largest sources of petroleum, which at the time was THE source of economic development world-wide.

Fast forward half a century to our current position on the world's timeline.

EVERYTHING in the world's climate has changed. Politically and militarily no "superpower" exists that causes us the "clear and present" concerns as did once the old Soviet Union. The local Middle Eastern governments have acquired a taste for power built solely on their ONE resource, and by default, WE are the ones that brought that monster out of the closet. We are no longer the only game in town specific to an ability to assist in another nation's technological development. As opposed to the worlds "savior and protector", a title we bestowed upon ourselves by the way, we are now the world's biggest (and possibly ONLY) bully, and are rightfully scorned and resented within the world community for the actions and attitudes that we display. It seems as though the only people on the planet who don't "get it", who have yet to ascertain the fact that the climate has indeed changed, reside within the American governmental system, who insist on conducting their affairs with the same old business-as-usual attitude. And it ain't workin' no more! Surprise, surprise, surprise as Gomer would have said. But even Gomer, in retrospect, appears to have more intellect than do the buffoons in Washington. IN the government that offense to the local populace, I assure you.

For these and many other reason I implore everyone who reads and especially those who take the time to respond to sites like these to grab the cajones of your local elected officials and give them ONE chance for change. And if they don't respond to you, threaten them at their most sensitive level, their electorate. That ALWAYS gets their attention, REAL quick. And don't accept form letters and pat answers in return either. Make certain they grasp the reality, and that they understand that you comprehend the reality that in no uncertain terms our future as a nation, our "national security" and our stake as a future leader in the world's economic and technological marketplace DEMANDS that we take pole position in the development and application of alternative energy sources. It is so painfully easy to cut the Middle Eastern giant off at the knees and send them back into isolation in the deserts from whence they came with nothing but a resource that nobody wants, they can't sell, and thereby driving THIER economies into the ground. Better them than us!!!!

Now, if any of you still confuse my stance on the need for development of alternative energy sources with some lame "tree hugging, enviro-maniac" tag that some folks just LOVE to hang on people, all you're doing is demonstrating your ignorance of the overall issues at hand. Whether we choose to allow domestic development in the environmentally sensitive areas of the nation or not is a small matter in the grand scheme of things. Take your short-term solution to a long-term problem and get into politics. You'll appear brilliant under those auspices. We as a nation need to begin seeking meaningful, more permanent solutions to what is admittedly a most complex issue. It's not as simple as "these drilling rigs are ugly" or "they're ruining the environment" or "we need the oil / gas / jobs / economic development". Make an attempt to view the entire scope of the issue before you begin to criticize someone else's suggestions.

PS - I did hug a tree once, but that was only 'cause it smelled like vanilla......gotta love those Ponderosa pines!!!

I did not intend to imply I "bemoan" foreign travelers. I am just amazed that there are so many more of them than US travelers. We like to camp in or near the parks and have truly enjoyed sharing them with people from all countries.

I fully agree with the insights of Rick and Lone Hiker, and the full respect to all visitors. There is also a lift you can get from the thrill you can see in foreign travelers; they seem to be energized by a freshness in how American the parks are.

There is a tendency for any people to take for granted their own area, but it does not mean it is a fatal or permanent condition. People may come back and experience it again, when they are ready, and have a deeper time of it. We do seem as a people right now to be enthralled in Media, not experience.

I think Lone Hiker is right about the value of deeper immersion in the resource. It changes you. I do think when you plan to travel to a foreign country you are more likely to plan an event, and not just experience the visitor center or the park road.

Maybe during this time of economic downturn it would be good to conceive of new programs to bring young people to the parks. Or, make sure that parks are part of any 'national service' opportunity for young people. I still believe Americans can and do appreciate their parks when they are provoked into a real experience in a park.

Lone Hiker: Good points and I myself enjoy the camaraderie of those hearty foreign visitors. Wow, those Germans and Swiss sure love our mountains and endless miles of hiking trails through our National Parks. I love there energy and robust attitude towards the great outdoors. The more the better attitude! While us lazy Americans would rather tip-toe through the parks without a feeling of it's pulse or existence...dash in and dash out, but forgetting why we were there in the first place. I met a young German man hiking up Mt. Whitney some years ago and I was surprised by his attempt to scale it in one day and back. Here he was with his day pack, German leather shorts and one good parka and all GO. I told him it was a mean hike to the top of old Mt. Whitney (14,400') and with his broken German accent replies in English: We Germans do this all the time in the Bavarian Mts. Long story short, he makes it to the top and back in less then half of a day. I just love this guys spirit of adventure which was filled with zest and zeal of great physical stamina. The fact is, most foreign visitors that I have met in the past, have taken a great interests in our National Parks. There's a deep sense of curiosity and awe written on their faces when coming upon the many beautiful splendors in which the National Parks were created for. Something which us Americans take for granted and with less appreciation...and it does show!

In the past I've made mention of my interactions with the various manner of person who choose to "indulge" themselves on the road less traveled, such as those I frequent. I find it amusing (and rather sad to say the least) that in my personal experience, the ratio of "foreign" to "domestic" visitors is easily 8-9:1 in favoring the wide diversity of foreign visitors, with representatives from most other continents. The sad feeling that I find myself wrestling with is that it appears from my most unscientific statistical gathering that our own American people are those most guilty of the "quick hitter" visit; drive in, park the car, run here and there, race back to the car and get the hell out of Dodge post-haste. Maybe the American tourist thinks that he'll be back soon enough to truly indulge him/herself in the cathedrals we call our National Parks, but rather I get the sick feeling that we've grown accustomed to taking these places for granted, or just plain "don't have the time", or most likely, "don't want to / physically can't expend the effort" to truly enjoy and discover all that comprise our precious NPS units. "Those damn foreigners" to which you refer are here to see the America that initially appeared to them via old movie sets, paintings, documentaries, and inferred frames drawn from their imaginations after reading various printed media, and they have both the time and the energy to make the most of what is most commonly a once-in-a-lifetime excursion to a place they thought only existed on celluloid or parchment. They're here to get the full experience, not some fly-by-night version that our own people call "seeing it all". For what it's worth, these are not my personal editorialized interpretations of someone's intentions; rather, I'm relating as verbatim as I can the substance of many conversations that I've had with hundreds of tourists from literally dozens of countries over the years. It hurts to hear them say that I'm one a precious few "locals" they've encountered in the backcountry, as they were sure Americans only existed near the lodges.

In short Cookie, let's not bemoan the foreign tourists who "invade the sanctity" of our parks. I, for one, enjoy the hell out of these people, who for the most part, observe the highest levels of etiquette on the trails, are extremely polite and well spoken (save a certain group from the far East who shall remain nameless), and generally exhibit a high level of respect for their fellow travelers and their environment, which sadly to say is quite a juxtaposition to the average "local". I find not one iota of "fault" or "blame" with these visitors. Quite the opposite, the fault for our own people's attitudes, behaviors, lack of manners and most of all, lack of interest, is all OURS.


I volunteered as a museum host for two weeks this summer at Yellowstone's Museum of the National Park Ranger. I, too, was impressed by the number of foreign visitors, although most of them attributed their excursion to the States to the favorable exchange rates since the dollar was in the toilet during that time. But, and this is a big but, I met hundreds of American visitors, also, people doing the kinds of vacations that are traditional--doing the western parks with the family. I was surprised at how popular the junior ranger program is with US kids. Each night at the evening campfire program at Norris, there were a line of kids seeking the signature of the ranger who had presented the program to prove that they had satisfied one of the requirements--attend an evening ranger program--for getting their junior ranger shoulder patch. Many of them came into the museum with their patches already attached to their shirts with safety pins. They were really proud of completing the program. It was really heart-warming to see how excited they were.

So, US people still use the parks, but the families are there only in the summer when school is out. I can remember several times in the winter when I was the only English-speaker at Mather Point in Grand Canyon or at the old Flamingo Motel during the summer in Everglades when only Europeans were willing to brave the mosquitos or didn't know about them.

Rick Smith

This refers to use of BLM land, not National Parks land. In my area (Nevada) BLM land is being taken constantly for housing, retail and manufacturing. Is drilling more obtrusive (noisy, smelly, brightly lit) than that?

I am a lover and user of our National Parks. So many people with opinions about the use of it NEVER use it! In my travels I have seen we have saved these beautiful areas mostly for foreign travelers. And ME!

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