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Millions of acres of land have been set aside for renewable energy projects in the southwest United States. However, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the bureau assigned to develop the property, has so far strongly favored leasing the land for oil and gas developments over alternative energy projects. To date, BLM has approved less than twenty renewable energy lease applications, but boasts nearly 600 leases for oil and gas extraction in this area. In fact, we have a record-breaking number of oil wells on public land nationwide — over 100,000.
BLM's overt affinity for oil and gas production shows that the bureau and its director Neil Kornze are much more concerned with accumulating wealth and power than with protecting the land with which they have been trusted. Tell Neil Kornze that overtly giving public land to the very companies that are destroying our planet is NOT acceptable! Sign the petition »
Director Neil Kornze:
Currently, there are a record number of oil wells on public lands, and at the 2014 Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation meeting you stated that there are "nearly 7,000 permits [that] have been approved, but are sitting unused." You also said that you haven't been able "to move out aggressively in" these areas of public land that have been designated for energy projects — projects like the over 100,000 producing oil and gas wells that are currently managed by BLM.
There are other energy developments on public land — solar, wind, geothermal. In fact, there are about fifty currently active, utility-scale alternative energy projects on public lands. Considering there were zero approved renewable energy developments as recently as 2009, one could consider fifty projects to be progressive. However, in your keynote address to the Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation, you said that the 7,000 approved oil and gas permits are "two years' worth of drilling permits "
The White House has made a commitment to the people of the United States of America to "reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in the range of 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020." But despite the President's Climate Action Plan, which as a public servant you are obliged to follow, you have clearly prioritized the interests of yourself and your associates at corporate oil and gas over our planet's well-being by averaging 3,500 oil and gas permits per year, and only ten "green" energy projects.
In your keynote address, you stated that you hope "to help protect communities and the environment and to ensure that taxpayers are getting a fair return on public resources." However, allocating a majority of the taxpayers' public land to companies that are making a profit off of the deteriorating health of our environment does not give us a fair return on our public resources. What you are in fact doing is perpetuating the very system that is destroying our environment and, in turn, our communities.
It is your duty as the Director of the Bureau of Land Management to protect the people of the United States — both present and future — by taking actions that will benefit and heal the planet from which we have been given life. As the owners of the public land you manage, we urge you to cease your outdated, oil-age policies, and to perform your civic duty.