The February 11, 2016 Bureau of Land Management (BLM) oil and gas lease sale was postponed until November. The rally outside to protest the sale by the BLM however, was not.
About 30 organizations signed onto a letter to Ruth Welch, Director of the Colorado State Office of the US Bureau of Land Management urging her and the Obama administration to permanently halt the further sale of leases.
Groups such as 350.org, Friends of the Earth, Food and Water Watch, Frack Free Colorado, and Wild Earth Gardens held banners outside of the BLM office in Lakewood alongside a busy thoroughfare. The group representatives insisted on meeting with Welch to deliver their letter.
Welch was reported to be away, but the group was met by employees of the BLM including a security team who refused to meet with them inside the building citing “safety concerns.”
About four representatives of the entire group agreed to meet with Steven Hall, Communications Director who told the group that the sale will continue after tribal consultations are complete according to BLM policy.
This location was the exact location where in December one activist, Russell Mendell was struck by a vehicle driven by whom the activists recognized as the auctioneer of the leases.
While BLM employee Steven Hall continued using language describing organizational representatives as possible terror threats, Micah Parkin of 350 Colorado who was a witness to the December incident insisted that actually the auctioneer for the BLM sale demonstrated violence by assaulting Mendell and that the driver of the vehicle be reprimanded.
Lakewood police refused to file charges against the driver despite video footage of the incident. Mendell reports continued physical injuries from the assault.
Tribal concerns were the focus of a second letter from multiple organizations and individuals of the Dine Nation, the Tewa, Lenape, Cherokee, St. Regis Mohawk, Akwasasne Mohawk, and the Piscataway Nations all naming the federal lands as historical sacrifice zones and urging the BLM to “keep it in the ground.”
Despite the failure to meet with Welch and the failure of Hall to meet with the entire group, Taylor Mckinnon of the Center for Biological Diversity counted the day as a win.
The next scheduled sale is in May of this year and the postponed sale is tentatively scheduled for November according to Hall.
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