"Ryan Zinke’s Great American Fire Sale" AKA The New Yorker's total ignorance of oil & gas leasing.

Guest commentary by David Middleton

Ignorance unbound…

Ryan Zinke’s Great American Fire Sale

By Carolyn Kormann April 14, 2018

Not long ago, the Bureau of Land Management, an agency within the U.S. Department of the Interior, began distributing “vision cards” to its employees. The front of each card features the B.L.M. logo (a river winding into green foothills); short descriptions of the Bureau’s “vision,” “mission,” and “values”; and an oil rig. On the flip side is a list of “guiding principles,” accompanied by an image of two cowboys riding across a golden plain. Amber Cargile, a B.L.M. spokeswoman, told me that the new cards are meant to reflect the agency’s “multiple-use mission on working landscapes across the West, which includes grazing, energy, timber, mining, recreation, and many other programs.”


Since last March, when Ryan Zinke assumed leadership of the Interior Department, vacating Montana’s lone seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, this sort of ideological conformity has been a top priority. On Wednesday, the department’s Office of Inspector General released a report finding that, between June and October of last year, Zinke reassigned twenty-seven senior officials without reason or adequate warning. Many of them “questioned whether these reassignments were political or punitive,” the report states, “or believed their reassignment may have been related to their prior work assignments, including climate change, energy, or conservation.”


Barely three weeks after Zinke took office, President Trump issued an executive order aimed at “promoting energy independence and economic growth,” in which he directed the Interior Secretary to “suspend, revise, or rescind” any guidelines that imposed “regulatory burdens” on the oil, natural-gas, and mining industries. Zinke, a former Navy seal who raised money for his congressional campaign by raffling off an AR-15 painted with the stars and stripes, seemed keen to carry out the President’s order, but he initially encountered some resistance. In a speech to the National Petroleum Council last September, Zinke claimed that a third of the career civil servants under his command were “not loyal to the flag,” by which he meant Trump. He compared his department to a group of pirates who capture “a prized ship at sea and only the captain and the first mate row over” to get the job done. The vision cards, it appears, were meant to remind B.L.M. employees that their main responsibility is not to keep the prized ship afloat but to plunder it for all the fossil fuels, ore, and grazing rights it’s worth.

Zinke isn’t the first Interior Secretary to see this as the agency’s proper function…


The New Yorker

This bit is priceless…

The vision cards, it appears, were meant to remind B.L.M. employees that their main responsibility is not to keep the prized ship afloat but to plunder it for all the fossil fuels, ore, and grazing rights it’s worth.

Zinke isn’t the first Interior Secretary to see this as the agency’s proper function…

That’s because it *is* the agency’s proper function.

In the early 20th century, Congress took additional steps toward recognizing the value of the assets on public lands and directed the Executive Branch to manage activities on the remaining public lands.[22] The Mineral Leasing Act of 1920 allowed leasing, exploration, and production of selected commodities, such as coaloilgas, and sodiumto take place on public lands.[23] The Taylor Grazing Act of 1934 established the United States Grazing Service to manage the public rangelands by establishment of advisory boards that set grazing fees.[24][25] The Oregon and California Revested Lands Sustained Yield Management Act of 1937, commonly referred as the O&C Act, required sustained yield management of the timberlands in western Oregon.[26]

In 1946, the Grazing Service was merged with the General Land Office to form the Bureau of Land Management within the Department of the Interior.[22] It took several years for this new agency to integrate and reorganize.[27] In the end, the Bureau of Land Management became less focused on land disposal and more focused on the long term management and preservation of the land.[22] The agency achieved its current form by combining offices in the western states and creating a corresponding office for lands both east of and alongside the Mississippi River.[28] As a matter of course, the BLM’s emphasis fell on activities in the western states as most of the mining, land sales, and federally owned areas are located west of the Mississippi.[29]

BLM personnel on the ground have typically been oriented toward local interests, while bureau management in Washington are led by presidential guidance.[30] By means of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976, Congress created a more unified bureau mission and recognized the value of the remaining public lands by declaring that these lands would remain in public ownership.[13] The law directed that these lands be managed with a view toward “multiple use” defined as “management of the public lands and their various resource values so that they are utilized in the combination that will best meet the present and future needs of the American people.”[31]


In what sort of Bizarro World is it wrong to require employees to adhere to policy directives from management or to reassign or fire lower level managers who are unlikely to implement those directives ?  This buffoon seems to be horrified by the fact that B.L.M. employees are being directed to adhere to policy directives of the Trump administration… Policy directives that are actually consistent with the purpose of the agency (as opposed to those of the Obama maladministration.

The problem wit the B.L.M. vision card is??? (Washington Post)

The article goes on to babble about the “ ‘drill here, drill now’ days of the Bush Administration” no longer being necessary because “fracking on mostly private lands in the Permian Basin, in Texas, and the Bakken Formation, in North Dakota, has led to an energy surplus.”   Maybe I wasn’t paying attention… But when did the ‘drill here, drill now’ days of the Bush administration occur?  Furthermore, the time to open up Federal lands and waters to oil & gas exploration is not when the nation is facing acute shortages of oil and/or natural gas.  The process is not analogous to turning a faucet on and off.

The level of ignorance actually escalated throughout the article…

Last December, the B.L.M. offered leases on 10.3 million acres in the Alaskan Arctic, a sale that the Trump Administration touted as the largest in U.S. history. Less than one per cent of the land received bids. In March, the agency tried again, this time with fifteen thousand parcels in the Gulf of Mexico. Although Zinke advertised the auction as a “bellwether” for America’s “energy-dominant” future, barely a tenth of the parcels received bids.

The NPR-Alaska and Gulf of Mexico leases sales were in areas that have been open and picked over for decades.  Opening up the entire areas in more frequent lease sales makes it easier for oil companies to manage their prospect inventories… But it doesn’t create more prospects.  Every lease in the open areas of the Gulf of Mexico has gone through about 35 lease sales since area-wide leasing was established in 1983.  The fact that 10% of the tracts might still receive bids is a testament to the prolific nature of the Gulf of Mexico, not an indication of lack of industry interest in new leasing areas.

The fact that the government offers leases doesn’t put prospects under those leases.  There has yet to be a Trump administration lease sale which has actually significantly opened up new areas for leasing.   The first ANWR Area 1002 lease sale could take place as early as 2019.  This will be a true measure of industry appetite for Federal leases and Arctic ventures.  An Alaska state lease sale on the North Slope took place about the same time as the NPR-Alaska sale and it was one of the most active in decades, with leases adjacent to ANWR receiving a great deal of interest.

Is this cognitive dissonance or just a tired old canard?

Across Utah and other Western states, there is a huge surplus of leased but undeveloped oil-and-gas parcels. Right now, the Interior Department source told me, the land sold in March shows little potential for lucrative development. So why did the industry bid on it? [Steve Bloch, the legal director of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance] suggested two possible reasons. First, he said, companies sometimes stockpile leases because it looks good to their investors: in theory, more assets mean more reserves, which mean more profit down the road. (Never mind that the reserves may not actually exist.) Second, some buyers purchase undesirable leases with the hope of unloading them when better extraction technologies or a needier market increase their value. In March, Bloch said, “that was borne out by looking at who showed up for the lease sale—wildcatters, speculators, unknowns.” The largest buyer, Ayers Energy, has no record of bidding on public lands in the West in recent years.

Why would anyone consider the legal director of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance an authority on the oil & gas business? If the author truly wanted to know why oil companies have inventories of undeveloped acreage… Why not ask someone in the oil industry?

Firstly, oil companies do not “stockpile leases because it looks good to their investors.”  It’s actually impossible to “stockpile leases.”  B.L.M. oil & gas leases have primary terms of 5 to 10 years.  If you don’t establish production on the lease during the primary term, you lose the lease.  Oil companies continuously build portfolios of prospective acreage, like a construction company builds a backlog of projects.   It takes time develop a lease sale prospect into a drill-ready prospect and get it drilled.  Many, if not most, lease sale prospects never make it onto the drilling calendar.  More detailed geological and geophysical work sometimes kills lease sale prospects… Sometimes decent prospects never make onto the drilling calendar because better prospects are available, creating an opportunity for other companies to take advantage of when those leases expire.  The third company I worked for made a killing picking up and drilling prospects that my first company had leased but never drilled.

Secondly, “some buyers purchase undesirable leases with the hope of unloading them when better extraction technologies or a needier market increase their value,” is perhaps the most moronic sentence I have ever read.

Thirdly, “in March, Bloch said, ‘that was borne out by looking at who showed up for the lease sale—wildcatters, speculators, unknowns.’ The largest buyer, Ayers Energy, has no record of bidding on public lands in the West in recent years.”… And the problem is?  The fact that new oil companies are formed is actually a good thing.  My current company never showed up at a Gulf of Mexico lease sale before 2012… and had no record of bidding on anything before the company was formed… Despite the fact that people working for the company had probably worked every Gulf of Mexico lease sale since 1983.

How does Mr. Bloch think that big oil companies start out?

DEC 6, 2012

Birth Of A Wildcatter – How Harold Hamm Got His Start

Christopher Helman , FORBES STAFF

Big Oil, Big Energy

(This recollection is part of our continuing series ‘When I Was 25,’ where the most successful tycoons of our time tell how they got their start.)

By Harold Hamm

I’m a professional geologist, an explorationist for oil. That’s what I’ve done in my career, one that’s culminated in–at least to this point–playing a part in finding the largest field in the last 40 years anywhere in the world. That’s the Bakken field, which I believe will yield 24 billion barrels of oil in the decades to come, maybe more. Today, the company that I founded, Continental Resources, has the biggest position in the Bakken. We’ve doubled our oil output in the last five years. We’ll double it again in the next five.

But you don’t just start off in this business with a home run.



Why would the author of The New Yorker article be so utterly ignorant of the oil & gas industry and the purpose of the B.L.M.?

Carolyn Kormann spent several months reporting in Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia as a 2008 Middlebury Fellow in Environmental Journalism. She was also the recipient of a fellowship from New York University’s Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, where she completed a master’s degree in journalism with a focus on Latin America and climate change. She is now a reporter for the East Hampton Press in New York. Her work has recently appeared in the Virginia Quarterly Review.

Yale Environment 360

Now, it makes perfect sense why she would consider the legal director of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance an authority on the oil & gas business.

In the interest of full disclosure:

David Middleton has spent the past 37 years as a geophysicist and geologist in the oil & gas industry, including a six-year exile into management… Working for wildcatters, speculators and unknowns (AKA Little Oil).  The vast majority of that career has been spent in the Gulf of Mexico… Well, not actually *in* the Gulf of Mexico… Mostly in an office in Dallas and/or Houston interpreting geological and geophysical data that were acquired in the Gulf of Mexico for the purpose of stockpiling Federal leases from fire sales and not drilling wells.  If I have to tell you which bits were sarcastic, you shouldn’t be reading this.

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April 16, 2018 7:36 am

Nice takedown. The New Yorker’s Kormann should have minded Churchill’s aphorism:
It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt.

john york
April 16, 2018 7:37 am

On a similar note: The US enjoys large deposits of rare earth metals. Unfortunately, most of them are on public lands that have been locked up by the BLM, EPA, and wacko environmentalist groups (all the while constantly using their computers, TV’s, and cell phones). I hope the new powers at the BLM and EPA release these areas and cut our total dependence on China for these crucial resources.

Reply to  john york
April 16, 2018 9:05 am
Keen Observer
April 16, 2018 7:46 am

They don’t need to be/have experts in anything. All they need is the belief that a) Trump did something; and b) the thing (even absent Trump’s involvement) cannot be permitted to occur, because “ebil”.

Reply to  Keen Observer
April 17, 2018 2:40 pm

“Puritanism: The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.”
― H.L. Mencken
Socialism is the belief that everyone else, in living their lives, owe you a cut, and that any such extraction is insufficient. If you are such a social parasite, you spend your time and thoughts trying to enforce this as superior morality. To the rest of us, the name of this morality is corruption.

Johnny Cuyana
April 16, 2018 7:53 am

Dave, great “heads-up” article; very glad that you turned me/us on to this ongoing proactive “normalization”, within this department, at the direction of the good Secretary Zinke.
I am glad to read that Sec. Zinke is making an effort specifically to bring back, at least to those in this dept, the general notion that ALL of its employees are there PRIMARILY to SERVE the present and future needs of American citizens; where, conversely, it seemed to me that the primary focus of this department, during the 0-bama admin, was to serve the desires of the big-dollar enviro-whackos … at the unrelenting expense of such citizens.
The key, I suspect many will agree, is that the [reasonable] needs of both of these cohorts can be served simultaneously but such MUST be primarily in respect of the people … today and into the future; and not alone for the special interest groups; where that key is to find the proper balance … in recognition that free people — not centralized big-dollar special interest groups, whatever their self-serving motivations — are the best agents to uncover and implement the most appropriate overall positive policies.
Thanks much.

Reply to  Johnny Cuyana
April 16, 2018 9:10 am

I just wish that Zinke would back up the right for recreational gold dredgers to get get back in the water in California. The lousy ecofascists along with Gov Brown’s backing continue to deny the right to mine/dredge as laid out in the Mining Act of 1872. There was a long court case in California over this that went on for some 6 or 7 years. In the end the judge ruled in favor on the dredgers, and the state still refused to issue permits. So where is the rule of law, when a judge’s decision gets overruled by the Governor?

Johnny Cuyana
Reply to  goldminor
April 16, 2018 2:04 pm

goldminor, I empathize with your situation … as IMO [and that of many other fellow LEGAL citizens] there are many such “frustrations” in many policy areas with many citizens … across our ENTIRE nation. It seems that almost NO ONE — except the political insiders and their big-dollar donors — is spared this governmental over-regulation and oppression.This is the result of the pervasive invasion of the DC and State politically motivated swamp players.
I must point out to you that — even though you ask — IN FACT, there IS a rule of law. There IS a rule of law which is followed [somewhat]; but the problem is that, primarily, for political reasons, it is NOT the law of We The People; rather, it is the law of the big-dollar special interest groups, the crony profiteers and etc … in many cases, the big-dollar enviro-whackos.
AND … the primary reason the swamp has taken control, to such a degree, is that WE The People have ALLOWED the swamp — ambitious and clever self-serving individuals and entities — to do so; where, we, to a very large extent, have abrogated our responsibility as self-governed freeborn citizens. Throughout the history of mankind, in any situation where the citizen has surrendered the “playing field” — for whatever reason — there have been those dictators, tyrants, warlords, oligarchs, assorted bullies and etc who have been VERY willing to “take control”.
Yes, by definition, it is up to us as freeborn citizens [of our Constitutional Republic] to elect representatives who will fight to defend our self-governmental values — to not sell out to the big-dollar lobbyists — however, for example, as in the above article, I was gladdened to see that at least one of our POTUS Cabinet secretaries is working to “remind” his UNELECTED minions — govt beaurocrats, one and all — that it is their primary responsibility to SERVE We, the freeborn citizens … and not to prioritize some special interest entity.
Secretary Zinke’s efforts are a good start; now, we need to push further, by, for example, removing the mountains of big-govt over-regulation and perverted taxation schemes; where, for the most part these regulations schemes were bought and paid for … for the purpose of giving some special interest a special advantage while, simultaneously, putting their competitors at a disadvantage.
Drain that swamp!

April 16, 2018 7:53 am

Tabloid journalism is a style of journalism that emphasizes sensational crime stories, gossip columns about celebrities and sports stars, extreme political views from one perspective, junk food news and astrology. link

Carolyn Kormann is indulging in tabloid journalism. The mantra of the tabloid journalist is: “Never fact-check yourself out of a good story.”

April 16, 2018 7:57 am

I have limited faith in Zinke. He posed as some manly fly fisher with his reel upside down.

Reply to  Doug
April 16, 2018 9:12 am

It is a little known method for fooling the fish into thinking everything is ok. You would be surprised how well that works.

Reply to  Doug
April 16, 2018 9:48 am

…He posed as some manly fly fisher with his reel upside down…

Uh no. Fly rods have the reel mounted on the bottom just like shown in the picture.

Reply to  Fraizer
April 16, 2018 10:27 am

Yeah, but the line comes off the reel towards the tip, not the butt (which he has wrapped the line around) Also, the reel in the photo comes left hand wind, but being upside down the winding is on the right in the photo. It all matches up well with the out-of the package creases in his outdoorsy shirt. He is no more of a fly fisher than you are Mr. Frazier.

Rick C PE
Reply to  Doug
April 16, 2018 10:38 am

Doug: See ristvan’s comment above regarding fools and keeping mouth shut.;-)

Reply to  Rick C PE
April 16, 2018 3:07 pm

Rick, Doug should pay attention to Churchill rather than totally embarass himself on this fly cishing minutia, thereby evidencing no outdoor knowledge other than Zinke/Trump hatred.
I have been an avid fly fisherman since early teens, including tying own flies for decades since early on teens could not afford to buy them. Not just trout; small mouth bass in New England and Canada, greyling and cyprinidans in Bavaria’s Isar river, salt water snook in the Florida Keyes. The fly reel is always down, never up like in fresh water plug casting (large mouth bass) or ocean fishing (tuna) setups on popular TV fishing shows—likely all armchair Doug knows. The fly line always strips off toward the rod ferrules. (Doug, do you know how many basic different types of fly line do that? Hint, floating versus sinking, all with various tapers. Why true fly fishers carry many reels for maybe three different freshwater length rods —plus a fourth for salt water.) But, depending on the cast (overhand, like in the great classic movie A River Runs Through It, or sidearm—often used to fool snook, or roll, used on small tight New England trout streams for pinpoint precision) the only important part of the end cast line remains in the casting hand, not what remains between the hand and the reel. Undoing a tight loop from hand across rod butt to reel is absolutely SOP after a successful cast, before the next cast. Just strip another casting loop out before casting.

Reply to  Rick C PE
April 16, 2018 7:09 pm

Sorry guys, even fishing hero ristavan. Look closely. The reel is attached to the reel seat upside down. The line will only strip towards the butt and the retrieve is backward as a result. Ignorance about fly fishing is no laughing matter in Montana.

Reply to  Rick C PE
April 16, 2018 9:47 pm

PS Ristvan—When was the last time you caught a fish on a fly? For me, it was while you were typing out your long post, rather than actually looking at the thread or reading my posts carefully. I live on the banks of a famous river. A nice hatch of Baetis sp mayfies came up, and with a #18 CDC comparadun blue winged olive fly with a #20 CDC emerger dropper (6x fluorocarbon tippet), a 4wt weight forward floating line on a custom Steffan Bros rod, I caught a few rainbows. My afternoon was better than yours.

April 16, 2018 8:06 am

My favourite is hanging onto something that’s not worth much today because it might become much more valuable in the near future. How stupid can you get?
Historically, the government function of “conservation” came before “environmentalism,” which uses words like preservation, resisting all change. Conservation was consistent with supporting multiple uses of land, encouraging economic exploitation of resources, etc. This doesn’t rule out camping and bird-watching, and is a rational approach.

Reply to  lloydr56
April 16, 2018 9:11 am

In response to your first paragraph. The status of marginal leases can improve due to: 1) An improvement in technology; 2) An improvement in the understanding of a particular area as to recoverable resources; 3) As with previous frenetic “oil booms”, when the money is freely-flowing, some players may be willing to gamble in hopes of achieving a big pay (or at least not being totally left out). (There may be other reasons, too.)

April 16, 2018 8:16 am

Good post by David Middleton.

April 16, 2018 8:21 am

One of my top assignments when I was last promoted was to ensure our division abided by our statutory mandate and other statutes, where appropriate and necessary, related to proper running of our state’s government. As I did so both inside and outside government I was labeled Darth Vader. I had been paid off, though by whom was never stated. I was from the “dark side.” Our agency merged shortly thereafter with another environmental agency, one that had long interpreted their mandating statute to mean whatever the technocrats and outside NGOs supporters said it meant. In the following organizational meetings I was often sent primarily to remind others of our new agency’s legislative mandates. Then I was labeled as “truly evil, here only to help destroy the environment.” Most of the technocrats thought our elected officials were ignorant buffoons. Ironically some of those politicians, always left of center, fully supported the technocrats even though when pushed they would say, “oh, yes we expect them to abide by the law.” The technocrats and outside supporters thought nothing of ignoring statute as it affected the way they were suppose to operate. They hated the required public workshops and hearings required by statute during rule making and strived hard to keep them to the very minimum. Some of these technocrats required to act as hearing officers thought nothing of making fun of any good citizen that tried to speak at such hearings. We had one of the worst actually on video tape. “Funny” when presented with the video evidence the person screamed that “his rights” had been violated. Outside groups rallied to his support and said “the agency is acting like the Gestapo.” Where did our technocrats learn all this behavior? From “our sister” federal agencies who supported and defended the behavior of our staff when they acted out. Indeed even given several of our staff federal positions after they had gotten in trouble at the state level.

Reply to  Edwin
April 16, 2018 9:17 am
April 16, 2018 8:25 am

I know many BLM employees who are now retired that are appalled at the direction the agency took when Obama took office. And I will gaurantee you Zinke know which end of the barrel the round exits.

Neil Jordan
April 16, 2018 8:51 am

Let me add some depth to the article, quoting:
“The Oregon and California Revested Lands Sustained Yield Management Act of 1937, commonly
referred as the O&C Act, required sustained yield management of the timberlands in western Oregon.[26]”
O&C refers to the Oregon and California Railroad, a land swindle that became BLM’s billion dollar checkerboard, referring to the alternating 1-mile-square sections of land granted to the railroad. There is a book:
Some O&C money goes to school districts.

Reply to  Neil Jordan
April 16, 2018 9:20 am

Yes, a huge swindle and giveaway for the incrowd.

Reply to  Neil Jordan
April 17, 2018 11:52 am

The U.S. govenment used to promote railroad track building by giving railroads land on each side of any new rail lines they laid. In most cases the land for a mile on each side of the new tracks was given to the railroads. The railroads used these tracts of land, for among other things, establishing new towns.
I happened to work for the M-K-T Railroad (Missouri-Kansas-Texas) most commonly referred to as the Katy Railroad, and during the early days of railroad building, the Katy (MP at the time) won the right to lay track across Indian Territory, the current State of Oklahoma (a very interesting story, in, and of, itself) but since this was occupied land instead of an empty prairie, the railroad was only given the land for one hundred yards on each side of the track rather than the usual one mile.

Reply to  TA
April 18, 2018 3:33 pm

In the case of North Dakota it was not a mile, it was a hundred miles each side if the track, BNSF by far has the most mineral acres in the state, even though the Fed’s now own the surface acres(the brought the land from the farmers in the 30s.) Thanks to Clinton he lock BNSF from drilling on that land by making it wilderness area. Only the federal government can keep a owner of mineral acres from developing whatever lies below. How Clinton got away declaring old farmland as wilderness area, is beyond me, how is that pristine wilderness?

Craig Moore
April 16, 2018 8:55 am
April 16, 2018 8:56 am

I read a bit of that linked Inspector General’s report on the reassignments – the gist of it was that while they couldn’t find anything specifically wrong, they did find that some of the relevant meeting minutes and bureaucratic forms had not been filed in triplicate, so the conclusion was that they asked the BLM to make sure that all of the proper forms were filed in triplicate in the future. Oh, and if any parts were handwritten, it was absolutely vital that they use only a #2 pencil.

April 16, 2018 9:09 am

Thanks Dave. I guess I never realized that the BLM had development as part of its general mission. I mean, “management” always seemed to me to imply telling people what they couldn’t do, rather than utilizing the resources to the benefit of mankind.
Additionally, I find it sad that utilization of the land and its resources is considered plunder. Whereas the despoiling of land is certainly possible, merely using the resources that are sitting there, unused below the surface, hardly seems to qualify. Perhaps if some “rapacious” oil companies leave the land polluted and unusable for anything it could be considered plundered. But given the regulatory environment that exists today, it’s difficult for me to imagine that actually happening.
But then again, maybe I’m just a cold hearted capitalist, intent on doing for me and mine, damn the consequences.

Dave in Canmore
Reply to  ripshin
April 16, 2018 6:56 pm

ripshin says “Additionally, I find it sad that utilization of the land and its resources is considered plunder.”
I wonder if the NYTimes author considers the land she lives on and the natural areas that have been destroyed to provide the food she eats- as plunder! She ignores the natural world that has been changed to support her and the thousands of people she knows and loves but points the finger at anything that she thinks she and nobody else needs. Its mildly psychopathic really.

April 16, 2018 9:10 am

Not that long ago, when “your side” lost an election, your gritted your teeth but understood that the election meant their polices would not be the ones followed.
What happened to change that? Why does this journalist think his political views should continue to hold sway after an election?
I really, honestly don’t understand what they don’t get?

Reply to  Phoenix44
April 16, 2018 9:11 am

“now be the ones followed”.

Bill Murphy
Reply to  Phoenix44
April 16, 2018 10:44 am

They get it, “elections have consequences” …but only if their side wins.

The Deplorable Vlad the Impaler
April 16, 2018 9:28 am

Idle speculation:
Is it possible that some of the parcels did not receive bids, because companies which might otherwise attempt to develop a lease, know, a priori, that it will get litigated to death, by multitudes of “environmental” groups?
One need not destroy a project by frontal assault, when a ‘death by a thousand cuts’ is equally effective (and makes great press for your fellow-brainwashed-activists).

John Garrett
April 16, 2018 9:41 am

You may rest assured of one thing:
Ms. Kormann (and millions of other clueless urbanites on both coasts) hasn’t the foggiest idea in hell why the lights go on when they use a light switch.

Reply to  John Garrett
April 16, 2018 4:33 pm

The lights go on because the government requires them to go on.

John F. Hultquist
Reply to  John Garrett
April 16, 2018 8:56 pm

Not to laugh: She does likely know, but there were poor folks that moved into urban apartments that did not (1950s, I think), and thus would not turn lights off because “they (the lights) might not come back on.”
Carolyn Kormann is likely loved by her mother, her kids, or her dog (whatever).
She might want to write about those things.

April 16, 2018 9:42 am

Having drilled on federal land though out the west, we always are relieved when the paper work goes through the BLM and not the Forest Service. The BLM has had a reputation for competence and balanced administration. Obviously no one in the New Yorker has worked with them.

John Garrett
April 16, 2018 9:47 am

Read this:
“Government Employees Systematically Violating Their Oath of Office” by Francis Menton (“The Manhattan Contrarian”).
Mr. Menton, a lawyer by trade, is a retired partner of Wilkie, Farr, Gallagher LLP

John Garrett
Reply to  David Middleton
April 16, 2018 10:40 am

I confess to being dumbfounded and gobsmacked by the extent of the economic illiteracy and innumeracy in this country. It is beyond depressing.
It is mind-boggling to see the number of supposedly college educated idiots who clearly have no idea whatsoever why they enjoy the standard of living that they do.

Reply to  David Middleton
April 17, 2018 12:12 pm

“For the majority of the time that Clement was at Interior, he studied the impact of rising sea levels on Native American tribes in Alaska. ”
That would be kind of like watching paint dry, wouldn’t it? Not much going on there.

April 16, 2018 9:54 am

Carolyn Kormann:

“this sort of ideological conformity has been a top priority. On Wednesday, the department’s Office of Inspector General released a report finding that, between June and October of last year, Zinke reassigned twenty-seven senior officials without reason or adequate warning.”

N.B. Kormann fails to note that incoming heads of departments and agencies frequently modify their employee reporting structures. It’s part of their responsibility.
That the IG investigated the reassignments is indicative of partisan and/or activist attempted interference.
With a full IG vindication, Kormann ensures her article portrays the restructuring as questionable.
It is also noteworthy that Kormann fails to correlate the court’s rejection of all BLM and DOI claims regarding the recent grazing lands debacle with any of Zinke’s reassigned personnel.
More Kormann sophistry:

“Many of them “questioned whether these reassignments were political or punitive,” the report states”

With question like these, the first concern is an apparent lack of intelligence in those questions.
A) Did the employees announce their politics?
Did they post signs about who they voted for?
Ergo, it isn’t politics.
B) Punitive assignments are accompanied by merit reviews describing the work expected and the employee’s lack of performance. Usually these punitive actions are demotions and assignments to work of low importance.
No demotions? Just reassignments, means it isn’t punitive.

“or believed their reassignment may have been related to their prior work assignments, including climate change, energy, or conservation.”

There you go! Kormann is taking artistic liberty and inventing spurious concerns.
• 1) “climate change” is normal nature, that responsibility is gone. Does Kormann expect that employee to get paid forever to not accomplish the same thing they failed to accomplish before?
• 2) “energy”, there is another null and void responsibility. With a fully functioning Department of Energy (DOE), just what is expected of a high level DOI position overseeing energy? Duplicated responsibilities, gone! Instant savings, put that employee to work where they’re needed!
• 3) “conservation”, again another replication of responsibilities. This one is oddly, a lower level responsibility that falls under an entire DOI department, that specializes in “conservation”, i.e. U.S. Fish and Wildlife. Especially since the USF&W have their own reporting structure to and through DOI.
Again, elimination of duplicative work is a direct savings.
Leaving people seriously questioning NYTimes utter failures to honestly report news instead of 100% activist ignorance.

April 16, 2018 10:51 am

This bit is priceless…
The vision cards, it appears, were meant to remind B.L.M. employees that their main responsibility is not to keep the prized ship afloat but to plunder it for all the fossil fuels, ore, and grazing rights it’s worth.

Agree it is priceless — a completely wrong analogy. They use “plunder” when actually it should be “putting fossil fuels, ore, and grazing rights to use.

Reply to  beng135
April 16, 2018 3:26 pm

beng135 – A wrong analogy, or clever disinformation?

K. Kilty
April 16, 2018 11:35 am

She, excuse me if I have used the wrong pronoun, is a Middlebury graduate, which explains a lot.

April 16, 2018 5:35 pm

” … Across Utah and other Western states, there is a huge surplus of leased but undeveloped oil-and-gas parcels….”
Wow, so anyone could lease some dirt, drill a hole, and you get rich?
Forget the geophys and cruel exploration budget, just drill baby, drill. Sounds easy.
” …. Right now, the Interior Department source told me, the land sold in March shows little potential for lucrative development. … ”
But why so fussy? All yer gotta do us drill a hole and Devil’s blood just gushes right out!
It’s not the unblinking stupidity of the reporter that’s her main problem (along with claiming to be a ‘journalist’), it’s that we’re to believe she didn’t ask anyone in the know why that may be so. Just concocted her own preferred nonsense.
But she claims to have studied to be a ‘journalist”. I doubt she did, but if she did she must have been providing favors to her prof, as she’s obviously clueless and incompetant, so could not have passed assessments based on merit.
Maybe she’s a bit compromised and conflucted due allegedly doing a Double-Major, in climate-changery?
” . . So why did the industry bid on it? … ”
Duuuhh? i dunno.
Instead of doing the job of a journalist and finding out the facts, she offers a jamboree of economically-irrational nonsense that she apparently liked.
dat’s dah nuws folks!
Just remember Carolyn, you are ten years in, and you fhose to be a fake-news inventer, a fraud, chosing to deceive people, without hesitation.
“Look at me mom”.
What you sew you’ll reap.And as that happens don’t complain about the double-dealing, the lack of trust or loyalty, or the destructive lies and deceitful people all around you, and the people who regard you with disdain.
You have your reward.

April 17, 2018 4:25 am

The new yourkor, is nothing more than a propaganda
mill for it’s thousands of bots.

April 17, 2018 7:16 am

If I have to tell you which bits were sarcastic, you shouldn’t be reading this.

Maybe the best ending to any articles I have every read.

Uncle Al
April 17, 2018 4:14 pm

I did read the rest of the excerpt, but almost didn’t after the very beginning:

The front of each card features the B.L.M. logo (a river winding into green foothills)…

The river is winding out of green foothills.

Bill Stoltzfus
April 18, 2018 6:54 am

Regarding why companies might bid on “undesirable” leases, if you think of them as undesirable only at the present time with the present technology, but possibly desirable in the future with technological advances to make the extraction fiscally worth it, then you can look on purchasing those leases as a possible investment. Kind of like buying up scrub land before the suburban developers get into the act and the price goes through the roof. Companies have to do something with their money, so buying up low-dollar leases in the hopes that they will accrue in value isn’t, I think, too dumb an idea.

Aaron Watters
April 19, 2018 7:19 am

I think you bring up good points. I also think you would be more effective with
the thoughtful general public if you would stay factual and avoid highly charged
emotional language that might tend to offend some people for no good reason.

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