Statement in Reno, NV to BLM About Sage-Grouse

This is the public statement I submitted to The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) on Thursday, December 5, 2013 in Reno, Nevada. The BLM held a Public Meeting to hear about the environmental impact on the Nevada and Northeast California Greater Sage-Grouse.

My name is Nelson Spear and I am from Midland, Texas. Over 100 years ago, my family began dirt farming and ranching in the Permian Basin in the area of west Texas. For over 70 years, my family has been in the oil and gas business. Today, although I have practiced as a lawyer, I am primarily an oil and gas investor. Many oil and gas executives, including myself, have significant mineral holdings located on state and federal lands in the west.

Those present know of the hard fight regarding the listing of the dune sage brush lizard. Investors knew from the outset that such a listing would not only threaten their income as investors but also for the thousands of families whose livelihood is dependent upon the energy industry. While I made a small contribution to this fight, others fought fiercely and the lizard was not listed. However, we are now facing the listing of the lesser prairie chicken. While the price of oil has recently been very favorable to the energy sector, it seems that we in the oil and gas business are fighting the government tooth and nail to make a living for ourselves and our employees.

About 5 years ago, some partners and I got involved in the exploration side of mining here in Nevada. In the short time that I have been in the mining business, I have discovered that the mining industry is suffering from the same governmental obstacles that the oil and gas industry is. The overall policies behind the proposal of the listing of the sage grouse may very well be the most fatal blow that the miners have ever faced. What compounds the problems of miners, however, is the drop in prices of precious minerals. Thus, the mining industry is currently harder hit than the oil and gas industry.

Many of us feel that government bureaucrats don’t understand how high risk the oil and gas and mining industries are. And that for the notable highly successful projects, hundreds if not thousands of projects lose money.

Many of us feel that the goal of the government is to drive the oil and gas people out of business. Many of us feel that the goal of government is to drive miners out of business. And, many of us feel that Washington bureaucrats are out of touch with the ordinary citizen and the real consequences of their altruistic goals, whatever they may be are .

Still, many of us know that even if we are successful in convincing you to not list the grouse or the chicken as threatened or endangered, there is a long list of additional species awaiting their turn.

What is confusing to me as a taxpayer is that the government seems to be doing anything and everything it can to discourage two very important sectors of the American economy. With the true numbers of unemployed and underemployed at record levels and exploding deficits, I would like to think that the government would encourage economic success of businesses.

What is so confusing to me is that at a time when America is starting to flex its energy independence that the government seems to be stepping into the path of businesses to prevent that independence. Without this independence, our government loses the opportunity to completely shut out rogue nations that have significant oil reserves.

Policies of good intention are nice in story books, but story books don’t have to deal with the natural consequences of those decisions. This is reality. People won’t be just inconvenienced by this policy, they will be harmed. Their families will be harmed.

To the government:
I urge you change our perception of a government that stalls, penalizes and interferes with legitimate business interests.

I urge you to reconsider the overall interpretation of policies relating to the Endangered Species Act.

To my fellow miners:
I urge you to remain strong and steadfast. I can tell you that I will do my best to encourage the oil and gas industry to stand with you and the ranchers and the timber people regarding these types of policies.

Thank You.

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One Response to Statement in Reno, NV to BLM About Sage-Grouse

  1. Jim Linthicum says:

    Very well stated. Good job.

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