During Bush’s two terms, I wrote a bunch of magazine stories about oil & gas development on public lands. I never encountered so many pissed off people. Many of them felt steamrolled by the energy boom– ranchers in Wyoming and New Mexico, environmentalists in Colorado, and archaeologists in Utah.
Lots of career staffers in the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) felt impotent too, and their anger built up over the years. Last December, one of them finally exploded, after I asked him what he thought about Bush’s last minute energy lease sales in Utah, ecologically and archaeologically rich land that abutted Canyonlands National Park and Dinosaur National Monument, among others:
What can I say that has not already been said? Just more of the same from a Department of the Interior that has no sense of ethics and no moral compass. It is like we are playing in some reality game show where deceit is just part of the game. Not good behavior for an organization that is managing the national heritage in trust for the public… Right now, BLM would make an omelette with California condor eggs if the oil and gas industry asked for breakfast. Everything including people, places, flora, fauna, art and history are mere impediments to energy production and most importantly corporate profit.
Well, not long after Obama took office, a new era for the BLM began and those leases got iced.
Seems like some Republicans just can’t stomach that, despite having gotten their way for the previous eight years. So this is how they channel their anger. It sucks being powerless, doesn’t it guys?
UPDATE: Ray Ring at High Country News has a sharp-eyed take on the Republican filibuster of David Hayes that places it in a larger political context.