Secretary Jewell chose to put partisan politics over people.  Governor Hickenlooper began his comments at the press conference as a “celebration of balance.” The taking of property rights is not an event to be celebrated and is not a victory for balance.  The taking of private property rights is an erosion of our fundamental freedoms as Americans and it is not the “right balance” for our constituents.

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and Bureau of Land Management officials joined Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper in the state capitol Thursday morning to announce final decisions on oil and gas development in western Colorado, including the Thompson Divide and Roan Plateau. (Photo by Bruce Finley/The Denver Post)

Editorial by Mesa County, Colorado Commissioner, Rose Pugliese

Last week, the Obama Administration canceled twenty-five of western Colorado’s natural gas leases, ten years after issuance. The lease cancellation announcement was made in a special fly-over Denver press conference, demonstrating true political blindness in the face of a huge political defeat during this month’s elections. The Administration was denied a third term because of the mockery they have made over the past eight years of property rights at the expense of our rural communities.

It is unprofessional and insulting that our Mesa County Board of Commissioners was not advised of the “media event” or informed about the Record of Decision, as a Cooperating Agency (an official planning partner with the Bureau of Land Management in their local decisions) and most importantly, as a subdivision of the State, before it took place.

Mesa County’s comments were brazenly ignored by the Bureau of Land Management. To make matters worse, Secretary Jewel announced the lease cancellations with Governor Hickenlooper in Denver, rather than in western Colorado, where many of our economies and our jobs have continually suffered at the hands of the job-killing policies of the Obama Administration.

As a jurisdiction that is being impacted socially and economically by the action, we expect communication and accountability from the decision makers. Instead, the Commissioners learned about the press conference from constituents who contacted us; not from our federal and state “partners”.  Federal officials informed us that there was “no time” for a stakeholder meeting to discuss the effects of their actions on our constituents and their families.

As a Mesa County Commissioner, I swore to uphold the Constitution of the United States. I take that duty very seriously. The federal government, under the Obama Administration, made the confiscation of property rights a priority.

The taking of property rights has not been limited to oil and gas.  Ask Powderhorn Ski Resort when the Forest Service confiscated their water rights. Talk to farmers and ranchers about the Obama Administration trying to confiscate their water through the “Waters of the U.S.,” an insulting proposal that should be subsequently struck down by the courts.

Now, the natural gas producers of western Colorado, who invested millions of dollars in the Southern Piceance Basin and Roan Plateau, have had their contracts revoked arbitrarily and without regard to the long-term implications on the rule of law and property rights.

Secretary Jewell chose to put partisan politics over people.  Governor Hickenlooper began his comments at the press conference as a “celebration of balance.” The taking of property rights is not an event to be celebrated and is not a victory for balance.  The taking of private property rights is an erosion of our fundamental freedoms as Americans and it is not the “right balance” for our constituents.

“Today’s decision is a testament to the ability of individuals, businesses, governments and organization in Colorado to work together to find solutions that make good sense for the local community, economy and environment,” said Secretary Jewell.

Our Board could not disagree more with Secretary Jewell’s statement.  Mesa County government has voiced strong opposition to the cancellation of leases as it negatively affects our already stagnant county economy.

Mesa County is 72% federal lands, which means the federal government controls our economy.  Congress and our federal agencies have the power to determine if Mesa County has a strong and viable economy and they have the power to decide if we succeed or fail.

In the coming days and months, the Mesa County Commissioners and other elected officials will be completing a list of federal policies that must change under the Trump Administration.

No more taking water rights from ski resorts and ranchers. No more locking away public lands from multiple use. No more closing our roads and limiting our economy by reducing opportunity for outdoor recreation, energy extraction, agriculture and mechanized use.

There also will be a demand for true transparency at our top levels of government.

Most importantly, our top priority will be advocating for the restoration of the lost property rights for our area’s energy companies so that the United States remains a nation governed by the laws of our United States Constitution and are not lost to the whims of the past Administration.

Rose Pugliese

Mesa County Commissioner

Rose Pugliese Photo(2)

Rose is a dedicated member of the community who is committed to transparent, accessible government and is accountable to the people she serves. In addition to serving as a Mesa County Commissioner, Rose, is an advocate for the community and is involved in many of the organizations that work together to grow the economy in Mesa County, Colorado.

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  1. Great article Rose, you rock, I hope that President Elect Trump will be swift in undoing the wrongs of the Obama administration, as it was blazing wrong to usurp the rights of its citizens. Jefferson summed it best, when the government fears the people you have liberty, when if fears the government you have tyranny. We support you and your efforts to not let our rights and freedoms gobbled up by big out of control government.

  2. The Roan settlement came out of a federal lawsuit in which the plaintiffs won. As an attorney surely you appreciate that fails to meet the definition of ‘arbitrary.’

    1. Rob, a settlement is the result of two parties mutually agreeing to something and thus dismissing a pending lawsuit while a judgment is the result of a decision made in a court case. The court was never asked to ultimately weigh in on this.

      The feds, who clearly don’t want development, settled with legal advocacy groups like Western Resource Advocates and Trouts Unlimited (there were more) which resulted in these lease cancellations. No plaintiffs “won” anything.

      As someone who thinks they understand the justice system, sure you appreciate that you comment fails to meet the definition of “promoting discussion through intelligent debate.”

    2. Perhaps the “arbitrary” stems from the original decision to stop commerce and use of ones own property, not from the outcome of the lawsuit.

  3. I live in La Plata county. I appreciate you bringing this to our attention. We need to stay on top of this. That wouldn’t happen under Trump. Maybe he can see that a contract has meaning and reverse the Obama administrations decision.

  4. My comments are for Rob Bishop. Your comments are so typical of a politician and the false narrative that gets spun for other uninformed to believe. Thank you Ned for better details giving us the facts and evidence.

  5. Yeah, this Utahn would never vote for Rob Bishop who doesn’t keep his oath [to God] to defend the inalienable rights of his constituents. The time for lawsuits in federal court has ended. Nullification is the “rightful remedy” and we must [force] our state governments to employ it. No more catering to tyrants.

  6. Rose. I understand that you feel Obama turned on the western slope. Now you know how a lot of the county workers felt when the commissioners got their raise along with DHS executives but no raises for 7 years for the actual workers. Next time you get your feelings in a uproar remember what your commissioners did to others here in the western slope. Walk the walk.

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