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National Park Service under pressure to allow pro bike race

Sidewalk chalk art at the Breckenridge stage of the 2012 USA Pro Challenge. Bob Berwyn photo.

Former superintendent of Colorado National Monument says new planning process is means to a pre-determined end

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — National park conservation advocates and retired park employees say they’ll carefully watch an upcoming planning process at Colorado National Monument that may have been spurred by pressure from elected officials and special interests.

Park service officials said last week they would launch a public process to evaluate a variety of special uses, including weddings, commercially guided climbing and, not least, professional bike racing.

In a press release, regional NPS director John Wessels said the plan “will bring greater transparency to our decision-making process, and will draw upon the community’s knowledge and connections to the monument to inform our decisions on future activities.”

Unsuccessful efforts by the Grand Junction business community to route a section of the USA Pro Challenge cycling race through the monument may have triggered the planning effort. Based on national regulations and policy, the National Park Service twice rejected a proposal to hold a section of the race in the monument. Continue reading

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Opinion: Misleading information about scope of oil spill

A May 17 NASA photo of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

BP,  feds and some media downplay rate of oil spewing from broken pipe; TV crew chased from oil-stained beach hear this: “… this is BP’s rules, not ours …”

By Bob Berwyn

Since I reported on reforms to the BLM’s onshore oil and gas leasing program yesterday, my first mouse click this morning was on a Denver Post Twitter link to a story about more changes to the way the federal government manages energy production on public lands — your lands, and my lands.

The Post reported that the interior department will split the discredited Minerals Management Service into three parts to try and resolve the agency’s conflicting missions. So far, so good. But high in the story, in the second paragraph to be exact, I found this sentence:

“MMS, which oversees offshore oil drilling, has been criticized for its oversight of the BP drilling platform that exploded April 20 and has been spewing about 5,000 barrels of oil a day into the Gulf of Mexico.”

The problem is, there is more and more evidence that the rate of oil spilling from the broken pipe is far higher than those early estimates — perhaps 10 times as high, according to this report from NPR.

And as early as May 13, the New York Times reported extensively on conflicting information about the calculations surrounding the amount of oil surging into the Gulf of Mexico, citing scientists who said the amount is critical because the volume is directly related to the amount of damage that will ultimately result to ocean and shoreline ecosystems. Continue reading

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