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Noem, Johanns Ask NPS/FWS to Extend Niobrara-Ponce Comment Period… Again

Rep. Kristi Noem has signed on with Republican colleagues in Nebraska to gripe and moan about the Niobrara Confluence and Ponca Bluffs Conservation Area. Senator Mike Johanns of Nebraska griped back in June that his constituents hadn't had enough time to study and comment on the plan; the National Park Service and Fish and Wildlife Service obliged by doubling the usual public comment period. Now, in a transparent attempt to kill the project by nickel-and-dime delay, Johanns gets Noem to join him in recycling the complaint that people haven't had enough time to study the plan.

Nome and Johanns's complaint is bogus. As I wrote last week in South Dakota Magazine, NPS and FWS have worked hard to get the word out about their really good and totally voluntary plan to residents along the South Dakota–Nebraska border. They've been gathering public input since winter 2012. They held extra meetings to make up for sessions snowed out in April. NPS and FWS have been doing exactly what Noem and Johanns say they haven't.

Don't be fooled: Noem and colleagues don't want more time for real public discourse. They want more time for their spinmeisters to manufacture more false fears of a "federal land grab" and wreck this great conservation project.

(And remember, if we were talking about the Keystone XL, a much more complicated project requiring much more study and public scrutiny of risks, Rep. Noem would be saying we've talked too much already and that we should hurry up and let Canada make its money... because... what, Stephen Harper will invade if we don't?)