One of the things I like about Democratic administrations is that we can talk about issues without what I call a cloud of POG, or Partisan Outrage Generation. It’s hard to see through it when it is so prevalent. So I’m going to pick two issues that have aroused a great deal of concern and see what they look like without POG. Unfortunately, many media outlets and sources of journalism funding actually promote POG, so it takes some careful looking for articles to get past it.
1. Oil and gas leasing on federal lands. The WaPo had this story from November 19.
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D), a Biden ally, has said she would ask for an exemption from any leasing ban. Three New Mexico Democrats — Rep. Deb Haaland and Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich — are all in the running to be Biden’s interior secretary, and they have differing views on whether to prohibit new drilling on public lands and waters.
Both Udall and Heinrich have expressed reservations about a total ban. In a recent interview, Udall called for setting a goal of “carbon-neutral” public lands, where the emissions from fossil fuel extraction could be offset by reforestation and other activities that remove carbon from the atmosphere. “That’s where we should be headed,” he said.
I like Udall’s idea with one addition. For those of you with a historic bent it’s a bit like the National Grasslands becoming an experiment station for the best practices following the Dust Bowl. It could be an opportunity to produce fossil fuels in as environmentally sensitive a way as possible- an experimental ground for innovation. We’re going to use the stuff anyway (and perhaps help other countries convert from coal to natural gas?), so we might as well be an example as to how to do it. I’m imagining a multi-university consortium with industry to develop and test best practices. Now Udall’s bonafides are a 98% lifetime rating from the League of Conservation Voters, so I don’t think you can attack him for being in the pocket of corporate polluters and all that familiar anti-R rhetoric.
2. Moving Some BLM Folks to Grand Junction.
This has been a target of the usual suspects; Center for Western Priorities, Grijalva, et al. Colorado Politics had this interesting POG-free article.
GRAND JUNCTION — Colorado U.S. Sen. John Hickenlooper says he is urging President Joe Biden’s Interior secretary nominee to keep the headquarters of the Bureau of Land Management in the Western Slope city of Grand Junction.
Hickenlooper met Tuesday with Deb Haaland, a Democratic U.S. representative from New Mexico, and invited her to western Colorado to “hear from the community firsthand” about why the public lands agency headquarters should stay, his office said in a statement.
The Democratic senator said that “I made the case that, done correctly, we can better protect and manage our public lands by having a BLM headquarters out west. I look forward to working with her when she’s confirmed as Interior Secretary to make this a reality.”
Hickenlooper sits on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, which will hold a hearing on Haaland’s nomination in the coming weeks.
The meeting came a day after Hickenlooper, Democratic U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert and Gov. Jared Polis met remotely with local officials to discuss a lobbying effort aimed at Haaland.