Thursday, January 20, 2011

Wyoming Governor Mead opposes 'wild lands' order

In a letter sent Monday, Gov. Matt Mead asked Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to rescind plans to make millions of undeveloped acres of land once again eligible for federal wilderness protection. Salazar has said the new policy would restore balance between energy development and protecting wilderness on public land. Environmental groups have praised the new policy, saying it's long overdue. But in his letter, Mead stated that the new policy "ignores" the impact Wyoming's natural resources have on the national economy and on how dependent local and state governments are on tax revenue from energy industries. He also said he was concerned that anyone can nominate an area to receive "wild lands" status. "A Wild Lands designation will further drag out (if not permanently halt) the permitting process while local economies suffer," Mead wrote. "The BLM currently does not have the appropriate resources or track record for approval of plans and projects; and this will only make the problem greater and delays longer." In a media conference Tuesday afternoon, Mead said he didn't like that the new policy was implemented without input from Congress, the states, or the public. "It feels like a bit of a takeover," he said...more

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