Open Letter on
August 26, 2015
Dear Governor Bullock:
I, David Pippin, a
lifelong resident of Valley County (political subdivision of the State of
Montanan), do here by protest the “HiLine Proposed Resource Management Plan and
Final Environmental Impact Statement (PRMP/FEIS)" on foundation herein.
The Bureau of Land
contrary to the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) and the Data Quality Act
(DQA) have ignored many pertinent facts, previously published in a BLM sponsored
study publications, and not preformed the requirements for a document of this
magnitude. As my terminology may be general I am prepared to provide
documentation for all pertinent facts. The simple disclosure that over 70
protests were destroyed by BLM supervision and not given to consideration,
prevails to investigate a bias intent. Where are these letter now, and why
aren’t they in the record?
A 30-day time window is
not sufficient time for legal review and digestion of a significantly CHANGED
600 page document and compare it to draft document that was given for public
review previously. This document does not conform to or pass NEPA requirements
that it is now attempting to impose these upon ranchers, grazing leases,
private holdings and mining interests.
Controversial and newly
found differences between the draft document and the now published 600 page RMP
are not acceptable, do not conform to the law and are highly questionable. The
changes for mineral entry by a factor of 3000% is profoundly significant. For
this reason alone it would be struck down in a court of law.
The RMP indicates a
perceived tragedy to the Greater Sage-Grouse (GRSG) from a concept of need to
implement without scrutiny and nothing could be further from the truth. What is
the “ASHE MEMO”? Why was it introduced so late in the construction of this
document? Why were the maps changed? For these reasons alone, it would be
struck down in a court of law according to 40 C.F.R 1502.9. Previous published
agency studies and personal experience tells me that a lek setback and the
impact caused by their being in close proximities with human activity are
The RMP management
policies are not favorable to ranch or mining and are restrictive to the
economic growth of Valley County's communities and businesses. It would cause
Valley County to suffer financial duress from loss of industry and tax base.
This will add higher taxation to Valley County residents.
The document fails to
address the underlying Bakken values for gas and oil given in report
to the governor (circa 2005). The RMP falsely quotes values of mineral reserves
of a magnitude beyond any logical reasoning. This and other flagrant violations
of the Data Quality Act and APA that are being further documented to require
this document be struck down.
I hereby ask that you
cease and desist until further investigation of these charges can be verified
by proper authorities and legal counsel of all affected parties. It must be
made to conform to law! This final RMP document does not comply with
regulations, acts of law, policies and planning procedures. It should not be
approved until brought into full compliance with the law or else be struck down
in a court of law. A response on the following eight items is requested.
BLM has ignored my
rights and fellow County taxpayers' rights by encumbering and diminishing the
royalty right that was promised and provided in the sale of County tax-deed
property to the United State Government under the Bank-Head Jones Act, 1937. No
Surface Occupancy will prevent Valley County from receiving any royalty forever
and constitutes a taking without compensation. It is well documented that the
royalty right was a part of the original sale of land by Valley County (Book 49
of Deeds, Valley County Courthouse). This RMP also denies the rights and
privilege of roadways and utility right-of-ways as afforded by the Bank-Head
Valley County has
requested direct coordination for the last 12 years and has been largely
ignored and snubbed by the BLM on these land issues. Failure to be upfront with
the county and county residents is unfair and deprives them of their right to
know and comment on economic impacts. A full disclosure of information/data and
what was used to support those decisions is required under NEPA.
Failure to coordinate
with the Valley County Conservation district to address the Bison Ordinance
2014-1 that was passed by popular vote of Valley County residents. Coordination
with Conservation Districts is required under NEPA and direct violation of
basic fundamental coordination practices required under Executive Orders 12731
and 11246 The Ashe memo was used as resource: Why not the Bison Ordinance?
Documented proof that
many of the statements and comments that were made on the PRMP/FEIS by
concerned public members were not considered and not used in this RMP as per
statements made by BLM person or persons. In addition, totally erroneous
statements like “The Taylor Grazing Act is no longer applicable” constitute a
type of fraud through misinformation of facts. Where are these responses now?
Why aren’t they in the record? Who had the authority to authorize these actions
bentonite in Valley County in the RMP is not represented honestly even though
the BLM had full knowledge of leases and permits located in Valley County and
Phillips County. The continued harassment in the pending development of
bentonite mining by S & B Industrial Minerals N.A. Inc. (Now owned by
IMERYS Metalcasting Solutions) is documented by protest letters from this
company. This newly developing company will be severely restricted by this new
RMP and the economic feasibility of their business plan will be affected and
may even stop their proposed development. This will be a loss of hundreds of
thousands of dollars in tax revenue which will increase the load on the
taxpayers of Valley County. Mining is totally ignored and downplayed in a
public document that is required to have Data Quality Assurances and contain
all pertinent facts and is totally ignored in the RMP. A bentonite industry was
once located in Valley County with an output of 200,000 ton a year, yet new
development of bentonite was not even mentioned in this RMP’s index. Why was
this not considered important?
The economic impact to
Valley County portrayed in this document was not significantly portrayed. BLM
has a long history of cooperation and coordination with many
Non-Government-Organizations. These organizations intend to strip the landscape
of productive livestock producers for more dangerous animals such as bison,
wolves, etc. Total economic impact to Valley County is not accurately
Failure to inform
Valley County citizens that this RMP could possibly assign the cost of EIS
studies to land owners or mining interests and possibly add increased taxation
because of business closures because of unfair requirements.
Many road closures
proposed in the major bentonite mining areas that are counterproductive to
ranching and mining are also restrictive to hunters and recreationists who have
used this land for the last 100 years. Prescriptive road use right-of-ways
obtained through due process of law have been circumvented by lack of full
public disclosure. A complete lack of respect for Valley County residents and
my personal civil rights as tax payer in Valley County are now under attack
from a deptartment of the government that I and countless others served as
soldiers and now as taxpayers. This constitutes a takings of my personal rights
and my freedom to exist on this magnificent landscape.
In conclusion many
things in this RMP/EIS are a major change in management practices of a large
landscape. This will constitute a major impact on the Valley County taxpayers
who call this area their home. This policy will remove these lands from their
intended purpose. The current hatch of sage grouse is in the near record
breaking numbers this year and cannot be contributed to any Federal or State
plan that has been changed or altered in a significant way in the last decade
but only to the consistent use of the range land by the ranching community
(Montana’s number one industry), hunters and recreationists and a proactive
approach to predator control. Failure to not reevaluate this document could
result in a major misuse of property in the federal public domain that
contributes to the production of food products for the nation. This landscape
is here today because of the faithful stewardship of Valley County ranchers and
residents. When BLM has a fire, who fights it? We do, the very same taxpayers
who are losing so much by this RMP/EIS action. A signature petition by affected
individuals and residents will follow this protest to demand cease and desist.
Our only other choice will be to pursue a more unified action with ranching,
oil, and mining interests.
Pippin is circulating a
petition to accompany his letter to the Governor. For information, please
contact the Courier.