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Former Managers: Salazar Should Take Reforms 'Onshore'

May 14, 2010

DENVER - With thousands of gallons of oil a day still leaking into the Gulf of Mexico, the federal government announced reforms this week in how it oversees offshore drilling. Now, dozens of former Western energy regulators, land and wildlife managers say it's a great opportunity to look at how on-shore energy development is managed, too.

John Ellenberger, former State Big Game Manager for the Colorado Division of Wildlife, is one of them. He says Colorado's richest energy resources are located under some the best wildlife habitat in the state.

"Well there's potential for a lot of impact to big game sage grouse habitat, habitat for deer, elk, pronghorn antelope."

Ellenberger says he and the other former officials agree it takes a genuine effort from both government agencies and the energy development companies to strike a balance between maintaining wildlife habitats and allowing reasonable energy development.

"Wildlife managers think the majority of energy resources that are there can be developed as long as some preliminary planning is put into place prior to the drilling."

60 former officials, including former heads of the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management, signed a letter to Interior Sec. Salazar in support of reforming how on-shore energy development is managed. They say they're after a middle-ground approach that will reduce taxpayer expenses and agency resources spent on responding to protests and lawsuits over leasing decisions, and costly industrial incidents that could be prevented.

Eric Mack, Public News Service - CO