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Drill now

Once you’ve passed through the entrance gate to one of America’s magnificent national parks or monuments, what do you see?

Nothin’. In most cases, mile upon mile of nothin’.

The sweeping grandeur of the Grand Canyon is not visible from any common entrance point to the national park of that name. Expect to drive several miles before you see the first signs directing you to various hotels and overlooks.

The traveler does not come upon these scenic wonders immediately, because those who planned these vast impoundments understood the concept of a “buffer zone.”

Yet listen now to the green extremists, complaining that mining or tree-cutting or grazing is “allowed, only one valley away” or “one ridge line away” from a national park or monument.

On Nov. 4, the BLM announced that on Dec. 19 it will auction the rights to drill for oil or gas on more than 50,000 acres of BLM land close to or adjoining three national parks in Utah: Arches, Dinosaur and Canyonlands.

“This is a fire sale,” shrills Stephen Bloch, staff attorney for the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, “the Bush administration’s last great gift to the oil and gas industry.”

“We find it shocking and disturbing,” says Cordell Troy, chief National Park Service administrator in Utah. “That’s 40 tracts within four miles of these parks.”

Read it again. Four miles outside the parks’ existing buffer zones.

Franklin Seal, spokesman for the environmental group Wildland CPR, contends “If you’re standing at Delicate Arch, like thousands of people do every year, and you’re looking through the arch, you could see drill pads on the hillside behind it. That’s how ridiculous this proposed lease sale is.”

See people earning an honest wage, working to heat our homes and fill our gas tanks … by using binoculars, perhaps?

In an era when Americans actually celebrate gasoline prices falling below $3 per gallon — when this nation needs to develop all its domestic resources to reduce its dependence on foreign oil — there’s nothing “silly” about creating wealth and real jobs by allowing entrepreneurs to risk their own capital developing our nation’s resources.

If the borders of the Arches National Park were not properly drawn to create an adequate buffer, it’s odd no one noticed before. In such specific cases, the BLM might certainly compromise on a parcel or two.

But these protests are like complaining someone “almost broke” the 65 mph speed limit by driving 63 mph, or that they “almost violated” the drinking age by serving beer to a 23-year-old.

“I’m puzzled the Park Service has been as upset as they are,” Selma Sierra, BLM director for the state of Utah, tells The Associated Press. “There are already many parcels leased around the parks.”

Details, details. What does that matter, when there’s serious posturing to be done?

 

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