Environmentalists’ Fear-Mongering About Oil Drilling In Colorado Is So Bad, Obama’s Interior Sec Had To Call Them Out

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Tim Pearce Energy Reporter
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Former Interior Department Secretary Ken Salazar pushed back against concerns that the federal government would open up Colorado’s Great Sand Dunes National Park to oil and gas development Thursday.

Salazar ran the Department of the Interior (DOI) under former-President Barack Obama from 2009 to 2013. He joined DOI deputy secretary David Bernhardt and American Petroleum Institute President and CEO Jack Gerard at the Colorado Petroleum Council luncheon in Denver. Salazar’s comments focused on dispelling myths surrounding a proposed lease sale of about 18,000 acres near the Great Sand Dunes National Park.

“I oppose drilling within the Great Sand Dunes National Park. But if you’re from the valley like I am, you know that to get to the place that is potentially going to be [developed] … it’s way on the other side of the mountains,” Salazar said, describing the natural barriers between the park and the land parcels under review to be leased, according to Western Wire.

“And yet, somehow, if you look at the media reports, it’s about drilling within the Great Sand Dunes National Park. It is not,” Salazar continued.

Environmentalists are campaigning against the lease sale, claiming that although none of the parcels under review are in the national park, some areas are close enough to it that development would on them would harm the surrounding environment and views. (REPORT: Banning Oil And Gas Production In Colorado Would Cost The State Billions)

“Great Sand Dunes National Park has over 300,000 visitors a year to experience the dark night skies, hike in the wilderness, and get some wonderful solitude that’s really hard to find anywhere else,” the Sierra Club’s Our Wild America Colorado organizer Kimberly Pope said, according the environmental group’s magazine Sierra.

The Sierra Club has created a map of the parcels in question. Development on the parcels would be visible if tourists hiked to a mountain’s summit along the range between the proposed leases and the national park, a Bureau of Land Management official told Sierra.

“I think [it] is really important for all of us to get to be literate about energy, so we understand energy issues, but also to know what the facts are, because sometimes people will misstate the facts in order to advance a particular agenda,” Salazar said, according to Western Wire.

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