Moffat County Commission to seek legal counsel over Department of Interior rules
In other action ...
During its regular meeting Tuesday, the Moffat County Commission:
• Heard an update on the Craig/Moffat Economic Development Partnership from director Betsy Cook.
• Approved, 3-0, Emergency Medical Services provider licenses with the Rangely District Hospital.
• Approved, 3-0, an Emergency Medical Services council recommendation to appoint Dr. Jeff Womble as EMS medical director.
• Approved, 3-0, hiring a part-time registrar technician for the Museum of Northwest Colorado.
• Approved, 3-0, hiring a part-time employee for the Museum of Northwest Colorado.
• Approved, 3-0, Moffat County Department of Social Services May 29 meeting minutes.
• Approved, 3-0, Moffat County Department of Social Services Community Services Block grants.
• Heard Moffat County Department of Social Services monthly reports.
“This couple that fought the federal government did so as a principle issue because it certainly wasn’t a financially-wise issue as I’m sure it almost bankrupted them. We may become the couple from Idaho that battles the federal government on this issue and I’m fine with that.”
— Dave DeRose, a Moffat County resident, speaking to the Moffat County Commission on Tuesday morning
The Moffat County Commission will begin exploring legal options for a potential lawsuit against the U.S. Department of the Interior.
The decision was unanimously approved by commissioners following a recommendation by the Moffat County Land Use Board to challenge certain federal regulations on wild and scenic river designations, recognition of revised statute 2477 roads on federal lands, and a ban on energy exploration in Vermillion Basin.
Although the regulations are in the Bureau of Land Management’s Little Snake Field Office’s recently approved record of decision, a potential lawsuit would be filed against the U.S. Department of the Interior and not directly at the BLM’s local office.
“I’ve been to all but one of the land use board meetings in the last seven and a half years, where these issues were thoroughly vetted,” commissioner Tom Gray said. “I think we’ve done that and followed the appropriate process.”
Six members of the land use board attended Tuesday’s commission meeting to vent their frustrations about compromises reached with local BLM officials being ignored at the federal level.
The 1-percent energy exploration exemption in Vermillion Basin, which the Department of the Interior later struck down in its decision to ban all drilling, was highlighted as an example.
“The BLM was an integral part of all the meetings I attended and we thought the federal government was having their say so, and everyone was operating in good faith,” land use board member Dean Gent said. “We don’t have to talk about what’s going on now, but it’s the (federal government) trying to undo everything the local people did is what it amounts to, and I don’t think we need to sit here and take it.”
John Kinkaid, a Moffat County resident and commission candidate in District 1, cited a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling in his support of the county taking legal action.
The case pertained to an Idaho family that filed suit against the Environmental Protection Agency, which was trying to use a wetlands designation to prohibit the family from building a lake home.
The court sided with the family.
Dave DeRose, a Moffat County resident and Kinkaid's opponent for District 1, also commented on the court case.
“This couple that fought the federal government did so as a principle issue because it certainly wasn’t a financially-wise issue as I’m sure it almost bankrupted them,” DeRose said. “We may become the couple from Idaho that battles the federal government on this issue and I’m fine with that. I support what these land use board guys are telling you.”
Wendy Reynolds, field manager for the BLM’s Little Snake Field Office, also attended Tuesday’s meeting with colleague Tim Wilson.
“I wanted to hear the viewpoint of the land use board and get a better understanding of how you folks feel, but not debate any of these issues because that boat has come and gone,” Reynolds said. “I would tell you that what you feel is what you believe and you need to do what’s right for you.”