|September 20, 2014|
BLM Selling More Than 6,000 Acres of
University of Colorado’s Climate Scientist Richard Keen Details Oppression by Administration, Fellow Faculty, and Politicians, After He Dared Raise Questions about Global Warming in a College Classroom
The federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is offering leases on 24 parcels of land totaling 6,797 acres during its quarterly oil and gas lease sale in the coming weeks -- 6,316 acres of which are on privately owned land. The federal government claims to own the underground mineral rights, LandandWaterUSA.com, has learned, based on an obscure law passed by the U.S. Congress 100 years ago and signed by Woodrow Wilson, the nation’s first elected progressive president.
The parcels of land cover parts of Colorado counties El Paso, Elbert, Kiowa, Kit Carson, Lincoln, Washington and Weld counties. Only 481 acres of that property that are included in the lease sale are located on BLM-managed land. A 30-day protest and comment period ended on Sept.14. earlier this week.
BLM conducted an environmental impact review and found that there would be no adverse affect to the privately held land when the oil and gas rights are leased, the agency says.
“Mineral exploration was beginning to escalate and the federal government opted to maintain the mineral rights to the land claimed under this law,” explains the BLM.
Rather than a deed to property, giving the new owner land, underground, and air rights, the federal bill limited the landowners rights ab initio, i.e., from the beginning: The law authorized the government to keep a “patent” on the mineral reserves underground, while the rancher was free to do as he pleased on the surface. (Within limits.)
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The law has some very explicit definitions built into it. The term "other minerals" includes, but is not limited to, leasable minerals, like oil, gas, geothermal, phosphate, sodium, and potassium; locatable minerals, including gold, silver, copper, gypsum, and bentonite; and mineral materials, including sand, gravel, scoria, pumice, and stone. Also helium.
Are mineral in character;
Most interestingly, if the landowner of the surface land in question wants to dig or drill or do anything that penetrates the surface of his land, he has to obtain a federal permit to do so.
A private company has planned to boost coal exports from Colorado mines, including from its Bowie #2 mine in Western Colorado that the company aims to expand with the new “Spruce Stomp” coal lease. Working with a private equity firm Galena to purchase three other Utah coal mines, this company has told BLM it has an agreement to export coal through the Port of Stockton, and has secured a letter of intent to export coal through another port in the Pacific Northwest. Activists had succeeded in shutting down plans to export through the port in Oakland, across the bay from uber-liberal San Francisco.
The activists have also been pushing state authorities to make it harder for landowners to drill for oil on their land in Colorado, even if they do own the mineral rights.
Liberal eco-activists note that a recent report from Government Accountability Office, an investigative arm of Congress, determined that the federal government has failed to inspect “four in 10 high-risk wells,” including 244 in Colorado.
In perhaps the most absurd example of all the BLM claims that private landowners whose forbearers forsook their mineral rights to the government can be arrested for willfully trespassing upon those mineral rights. That’s correct, if the landowner trespasses by accident, all is forgiven by Uncle Sam. But, if he or she willfully digs for gold, oil, coal or anything of value under their property, arrests and prosecution may soon follow. The landowner may only do things to the land that improve the surface of the land. This includes developing water sources and infrastructures associated with grazing and foraging. How can you find out whether or not you are a law abiding citizen when it comes to irrigating or improving the land, contact the BLM, the agency’s web site sagely advises.
BLM Colorado offers oil and gas lease sales four times per year, as per another federal statute, the Mineral Leasing Act, when eligible lands are available for leasing. This September’s scheduled sale was combined with the upcoming November sale, according to the BLM. A number of offices are involved in the upcoming sale, including the Colorado River Valley Field Office, Grand Junction Field Office, Gunnison Field Office and the Uncompahgre Field Office, as well as the Royal Gorge Field Office and the San Luis Valley Field Office.