Hikers on Redcloud Peak, an area near Silverton administered by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. (BLM Photo by Bob Wick)

Over the past five months, the nation has suffered too much misinformation about how federal oil and gas leasing practices affect education budgets. Well, let me tell you from an educator’s point of view why all teachers and all Americans who care about funding our nation’s public schools should be excited about Tracy Stone-Manning’s nomination to lead the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

As president of the only union representing Montana’s teachers, university faculty and education classified personnel, I worked closely with Stone-Manning when she served as Montana Gov. Steve Bullock’s chief of staff. 

Eric Feaver

Governor Bullock was committed to enhancing Montana public education by expanding student opportunities to study and grow from pre-K through graduate school.  Stone-Manning defended and promoted the governor’s ambitious public education agenda while balancing the fiscal costs of doing so.  It is rare for a BLM nominee to have this crucial experience. 

In addition, Stone-Manning has a long track record of fairness, collaboration, working across the aisle, working with industry and conservationists, to get good stuff done.  She is an experienced leader who understands that updating our nation’s oil and gas leasing practices is needed to support a brighter future for public education across America. 

Right now, it’s important that educators everywhere understand what’s at stake when it comes to national leadership that would impact oil and gas leasing and our school budgets. 

Much of the nation’s current oil and gas industry operates on lands managed by the BLM. In Colorado, the agency directly manages 8.3 million acres of public lands and 27 million acres of federal mineral estate.

Reforming oil and gas leasing will produce a better fiscal return for taxpayers, generate millions more annually to help fund our public schools, and prepare our nation for the inevitable transition away from fossil fuels. 

Having taught 10 years in Montana public schools and served as union president for 36 years, I know firsthand how hard it is to fund what we, the people, demand and expect public schools to do.  Reforming oil and gas leasing is a long-overdue positive revenue step forward that will benefit kids and schools for years to come and preserve the recreational, cultural, wildlife conservation and agricultural uses of our public lands.

As President Biden’s administration moves to reform our nation’s oil and gas leasing program, we need a leader at the BLM who has a proven history of prioritizing public education while also working in good faith toward balanced use for all. Tracy Stone-Manning is that leader.

Montana educators were incredibly fortunate to have Tracy Stone-Manning serve as Governor Bullock’s chief of staff.  America’s and Colorado’s educators will be fortunate to have her leading the Bureau of Land Management.

Eric Feaver, a longtime former educator and labor leader, retired a year ago as president of the Montana Federation of Public Employees, which during his tenure became the state’s largest labor union.

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Special to The Colorado Sun Twitter: @efeaver