U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton blasted the Bureau of Land Management’s review of oil and gas leases in his district. Critics likened his “highway robber” remarks to the views of the Bundy militia.
U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton lambasted the federal government last week in Congress for interfering with private property rights in his district — a move some environmentalists say puts him in the ideological company of the armed right-wing activists occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon.
Tipton’s charge against the feds: That the Bureau of Land Management succumbed to political pressure from “environmental extremists” when the agency agreed to review the environmental impact of 65 oil and gas leases in the Thompson Divide. He said the review could lead to the government revoking the leases or forcing the owners to install expensive safety equipment.
“The federal government is acting as nothing more than a highway robber, in this case and many others, robbing citizens and businesses of property they have bought and paid for and telling us that we should just be grateful there’s someone looking out for our greater interests,” Tipton said.
One concern Tipton and Sen. Cory Gardner raised in Congress is that the public hasn’t had sufficient time to comment because of the holidays. More than 50,000 citizen comments have been filed with the BLM.
As Tipton tells it, the BLM’s actions aren’t dissimilar from other federal agencies attacking property owners’ rights.
“This is unfortunately in line with a disturbing trend of federal agency abuses of private property rights, whether it is the Forest Service’s repeated attempts to leverage Special Use Permits to forcibly acquire private water rights, or the EPA’s determination to classify every ditch and puddle as a ‘Water of the United States’ to further insert itself in to the everyday lives of ordinary, hard-working Americans.”
Tipton’s critics point out that the leases in question are in the White River National Forest — which is public land, not private. The primary lease owner in the Thompson Divide area is SG Interests, which is one of Tipton’s biggest campaign contributors. The company is based in Houston, not Colorado.
“Rep. Tipton’s line of reasoning sounds a little too close to that of the Bundy extremists currently occupying a wildlife refuge in Oregon, who want the federal government to cede all control of American public lands,” said Sally Hardin, deputy director of the Western Values Project in a statement.
“Rep. Tipton should stop siding with the big out-of-state energy companies who are trying to derail an open and collaborative approach to oil and gas leasing in the Thompson Divide.”
Photo credit: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Creative Commons, Flickr.