| News |

Ken Salazar extinguishes a Bush fire sale

Keep Westword Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Denver and help keep the future of Westword free.

Ken Salazar, the new Secretary of the Interior, who spent much of last week traipsing around the Denver area declaring that there's a new sheriff in town, has taken what he calls "an important first step" in restoring balance to federal public lands policy -- pulling the plug on a controversial sale of oil and gas leases on lands in close proximity to spectacular parks and wilderness areas in southeastern Utah.

In a February 4 teleconference with journalists, Salazar announced that he was ordering the Bureau of Land Management to withdraw energy leases for 77 parcels totaling 130,000 acres, which the Bush administration had offered for energy extraction in its final weeks. The sale triggered uproar among environmental groups and monkey-wrenching by one activist who slipped into the auction and placed false bids. Two weeks ago, a federal court issued a temporary restraining order suspending the leases.

Saying there was "inadequate consultation" with other federal agencies, including the National Park Service, over the leases, Salazar took the parcels off the table and promised a thorough review of environmental impacts before such lands would again be considered. In a visit to the Lakewood office of the Minerals Management Service last week, the Secretary bemoaned the ethics scandals in energy royalty collection -- see my 2008 report "Crossing Over" for more on that front. But today he declined to indicate whether particular employees may have violated BLM procedures in offering these parcels for energy development.

For more on what the new sheriff expects in the way of ethics from his posse, read the memo.

Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.