Open Letter to Obama: About That “Government Land”

Posted by By at 12 October, at 07 : 24 AM Print

That was a neat story Gov. Romney told about his sons telling lies. I’m betting you’ve got some tales you could tell about Malia and Sasha. If you don’t, you will, as soon as you let them discover boys, and those guys with worms growing out of their ears are excised from the girls’ shoulders.

My son used to tell untruths. Sometimes he’d even say he hadn’t done a thing I’d just stood there watching him do. But he’s all grown up and haired over – except that place on his head where you could draw a map of Alaska and not mess up any follicles.

OK, maybe a map of Delaware. What’s a little exaggeration between friends? I’m guessing if you and Mitt would get in a private room together, both of you could come up with some things you wished your parents hadn’t found out didn’t happen just the way you said they did. I’m pretty certain my dad is looking at that big database in the sky, seeing some things that didn’t happen just the way I related them when he was here. Or didn’t bother to tell him at all. I can say I never told him I didn’t do something I was even suspicious he’d seen me actually do.

Anyway, I’ve been thinking about all that stuff you didn’t say the other night when Mitt was yelling, butting in and counting to five, or three, and killing Big Bird and putting Jim Lehrer on the unemployment line to save money for important stuff. You ought to drop over to Pennsylvania and see how things are going here. We’re just a short jump from your house; in fact, your mountain cottage is just over the hill from where I live, and there’s a vacant lot next to mine I bet any U.S. Marine pilot could helicopter into easily.

And I could show you some stuff. And you’d have some answers next time you’re in the same room with Mr. Romney.

For instance, he said during the first presidential debate, “Production of oil and gas in the U.S. is up, but not due to his (Obama’s) policies. … All of the increase in natural gas and oil has happened on private land, not on government land.”

First, it’s not “government land,” it’s “public land.” The people of the Commonwealth pay to acquire and maintain it so we can hunt, fish, camp and hike there.

Second, nearly three-quarters of a million acres are under lease to Marcellus Shale drillers, sliced and diced into roads capable of carrying some very heavy trucks, large pads for drilling rigs and support equipment, and pipeline pathways to get the gas to market.

And Wyoming? I only drove across it once, but I know some people who live there. You and Romney might consider spending a few hours in a helicopter over that place. Millions of acres of the Powder River Valley are being mined for coal to be shipped to markets in Asia – because markets are drying up in the U.S. Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection this week issued the final permit for a company to build a natural gas-fired electricity generating plant in Lycoming County – presumably to burn some of that gas Romney says isn’t being produced on that county’s public lands.

All you need do is have someone read through the Federal Register to see where federal land is being leased to gas and coal producers. The way things are going, by the time I get there, there ain’t going to be a there there. Arch Coal will have shipped it to China and India in railroad car loads.

I could go on, Mr. President, but I don’t want to take too much of your time. Anyway, you get the idea, and if you’d like to hear some more about life here in 47 percent land – I’ve got a grill and could find some ribs and beer and my wife and granddaughter would love to meet you. It’s not public land, but we pay our taxes on it – sort of rent it back from the township, county and school district each year, and I’m sure they wouldn’t mind if you stopped by.

Photo by Brett Whaley

This post was written by:
- who has written 169 posts for Rock The Capital
John Messeder is an award winning journalist with more than 35 years experience writing about education, environment and local government issues. He has lived in Maine, Florida, California and Alaska, and, by temporary turns, numerous places in between. John also is an accomplished photographer, and avid hiker, conservationist, oral history buff, and author of several books he has not yet got 'round to writing. He lives in Adams County, Pa., just over a hill from Gettysburg, with his wife and Golden Retriever. He may be contacted at - Email jmesseder

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