US Sen. Ken Salazar and Reps. John T. Salazar and Mark Udall introduced legislation on Apr. 17 which the three Colorado Democrats said would protect the Roan Plateau while assuring that Coloradoans would receive a fair share of revenues from oil and gas development there.
S. 2879 would require the US Bureau of Land Management to issue leases on the plateau in phases, initially outside of cutthroat trout watersheds, and consider factors designed to maximize revenues to the federal treasury and to the state while minimizing environmental impacts, according to the federal lawmakers.
Before each new leasing round, BLM would have to confirm that wells necessary to recover 90% of the recoverable natural gas beneath the previously leased development area were completed and that stringent environmental standards were met, they said.
The bill also would expand BLM's Areas of Critical Environmental Concern to include the headwaters of two creeks which the lawmakers said are critical native cutthroat trout watersheds. It also would limit development outside the ACECs and within development corridors along existing ridge-top roads to 20% of these areas.
A spokesman for the Independent Petroleum Association of Mountain States in Denver said on Apr. 22 that the organization was pleased that the three lawmakers apparently have dropped their opposition to any further Roan Plateau federal leasing.
But IPAMS Communications Director Jon Bargas also told OGJ that Congress transferred Naval Oil Shale Reserves 1 and 3 from the US Department of Energy to BLM in 1997 with the express purpose of leasing the 73,620 acres. "Since then, BLM has developed one of the most stringent leasing plans we've ever seen. Leasing of the Roan Plateau has been delayed long enough," he said.
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