In late March the Center for Rural Affairs led a delegation of western elected officials to Washington, D.C. to call for balancing energy development with other important uses on public lands. They presented a letter to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell signed by 75 state legislators and county commissioners from seven western states asking for stronger policies to protect small towns and rural areas from the impacts of energy development.

Encouragingly, those western elected officials' voices did not fall on deaf ears. On April 10, Secretary Jewell released a report outlining a landscape-scale mitigation strategy to encourage smarter development on public lands. This strategy is a major step in the right direction for ensuring that development on public lands does not compromise the rural and small town way of life. The Center for Rural Affairs applauds Secretary Jewell for listening to the chorus of voices from across the west who are concerned about the impacts of oil and gas development on public lands.

Strengthening Interior's commitment to science-based, landscape level planning will help avoid the gravest development impacts on our land, air and water. Such an approach shows a keen understanding of the values Americans place on public lands as well as demonstrating the effectiveness of the voices speaking out on this, especially the western elected officials who came together to push for balanced public land use and the delegation we took to DC to stand up on their behalf.

Established in 1973, the Center for Rural Affairs is a private, non-profit organization working to strengthen small businesses, family farms and ranches, and rural communities through action oriented programs addressing social, economic, and environmental issues.