By David Pippin
Valley County Voices 
The Glasgow Courier

 Open Letter on PRMP/FEIS

 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 Management (BLM), 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 inconsequential.

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 Jones act.

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 and statements?

Development of 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 described.

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.