NY Times Editorial: Rocky Mountain Politics

October 2004

It's not often that the New York Times devotes an entire editorial to the Rocky Mountain region. Today is one of those days as the Times opines on environmental concerns and what it says are only temporary retreats by the Administration to open up land for oil and gas drilling.

In recent weeks, however, controversial plans for new drilling in areas of great importance not only to environmentalists but to hunters and anglers who form part of President Bush's core constituency have been shelved until after the election. These include proposals to open up thousands of acres of the fragile Otero Mesa in New Mexico, big chunks of the Roan Plateau in Colorado and the Green River Basin in Wyoming, an already heavily exploited region rich in wildlife and natural gas. (No similar reprieve was granted to Utah, where 40,000 acres were recently auctioned off as part of the Interior Department's colonizing of Utah lands that Mr. Babbitt had protected as potential wilderness.)

Basically, says the Times, the Adminstration has giveth, but also will taketh away.

What we are seeing has the look of a classic political tease, aimed in this case at up-for-grabs states like New Mexico - a tease that would be replaced after Nov. 2 by the sterner reality of a policy that says there is no energy crisis we cannot drill our way out of.