Posted by: Deb Henry | 06/24/2010

No sulking: Continue to hold Jim Matheson accountable to the people.

Jim Matheson, the winner of Tuesday’s primary and our current congressman on the gerrymandered east side of Utah, is touting the “first major BLM wilderness legislation in 25 years” and representing it as an environmental move. It may in fact have pieces of it that are very valuable to protecting the environment, but I wanted to point out one specific provision.

The new bill is going to make more of Snowbird Resort available for development. Who owns Snowbird and will profit from this new access and new revenue due to this new access? The owner, Dick Bass.  He is a partner in PacRim Coal which is proposing a coal strip mine on the Chuitna River system that detractors claim will destroy one of Alaska’s premier native salmon fisheries that feeds into the Cook Inlet.

I’d like to believe that Jim Matheson is enacting this legislation for the environment and not because he has contentious ties to the oil, coal and gas industries, but the connection is there.  He has to keep these energy industry leaders and corporations (who are his major contributors) happy or else he won’t be able to spent $750,000 on a primary.

Update (6/28): I talked to Rep. Jim Matheson in person on Saturday afternoon at the Unity BBQ. There is no point in ignoring the man that is going to be our representative for at least the next 5 months (even if it gets certain people to call me a traitor and accuse me of drinking kool-aid).

I began by telling  Mr. Matheson that I was worried that since the oil spill in the gulf, our focus was going to change to natural gas. He said he believed natural gas was going to be a critical component, especially in transportation, for helping the USA become energy independent.  I mentioned I was worried about the methods of drilling for natural gas (specifically hydraulic fracturing) since there are large reserves of natural gas that span several eastern states. I asked him to watch Josh Fox’s Gasland (which I have talked about in previous entries) and he said he would.

He also mentioned that since the reserves span several states, he would like to see the EPA supervising the regulation of hydraulic fracturing. Right now the individual states regulate the process which makes it hard to have uniform policies, safety precautions and expectations in place. This statement is contrary to his vote for the 2005 Energy Policy Act, so I hope he has had a change of perspective. I also hope he actually watches the movie Gasland and uses his weight on The Energy and Commerce committee to rectify the realities brought to light in the film.

What can you do?

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