In November 2014, the Bureau of Land Management is expected to release for public review and comment the Bull Mountain Master Development Plan Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). This proposed project covers approximately 19,645 acres of Federal and private minerals about 30 miles northeast of Paonia. The rural character of the lush riparian meadow, scrub oak, and aspen landscape that provides high quality big game habitat would drastically change to an industrial site holding 146 natural gas wells, 4 water disposal wells, access roads, gas and water pipelines, as well as overhead electric lines. Because this project is a major Federal action significantly affecting the quality of the human environment, BLM is required to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA.
NEPA allows you and me, as well as organizations to participate in public review and comment on major Federal actions. NEPA gives us the opportunity to hold agencies and business accountable for their decisions and actions that significantly affect the human environment. Although NEPA is a procedural statute―it can’t mandate a particular result―it requires agencies to take a hard look at environmental impacts. This is to be a holistic account of impacts that would stem from connected, cumulative, and similar actions, as well as direct, indirect, and cumulative effects of the proposed extraction. In this EIS, BLM will also have to disclose what mitigation measures would be used and their effectiveness. Providing analysis of these actions and impacts should make the agency’s decision transparent and allow for meaningful public involvement.
HCCA and our partners will be involved in this public review and comment process. Can we count on you to join our efforts? We hope so! Watch for action alerts and ways you can protect your public lands from irresponsible extraction.