Report: New Fed Loopholes Big Enough to Fit a Gas Rig Through
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Denver - A last-minute rule change by the Bush adminstration could leave currently protected roadless areas in Colorado among the most vulnerable to development in the country, according to a new report from the Pew Environment Group. The report finds nearly 100 gas leases could move forward on Colorado forest lands in areas currently protected, along with millions of other acres nationwide, under the federal roadless rule.
Pete Kolbenschlag, with Pew, says the move is bad news for Colorado's most precious back-country forests.
"They would end up with less protection than any other similar national forest anywhere in the country."
David Petersen, with Trout Unlimited, says some of the vulnerable areas are among the most important in the state for hunters and anglers.
"This is where big elk herds hang out, where we have native cutthroat trout streams, and our primary watersheds."
Petersen says his group is not against energy development in general, but feels the administration has been in too much of a rush to drill in recent years, without considering all the impacts.
The Forest Service says the agency is responding to a request by Gov. Ritter. Representatives from Pew call it a case of "unintended consequences," and say they hope the governor will ask the federal government to suspend the process until the full impact can be studied.
The new roadless area rules for Colorado are expected to be published in the Federal Register on Friday, which will begin a 90-day public comment period.
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