Roan Plateau drilling opponents blocked

An amendment intended to prevent leasing on the Roan Plateau in Colorado was itself blocked for procedural reasons, but its proponents said they will continue efforts to prevent leasing on federal land within the Piceance basin.

Jul 18th, 2007

By OGJ editors
HOUSTON, July 18 -- An amendment intended to prevent leasing on the Roan Plateau in Colorado was itself blocked for procedural reasons, but its proponents said they will continue efforts to prevent leasing on federal land within the Piceance basin.

US Reps. John Salazar and Mark Udall, both Democrats from Colorado, had sought to amend the US Department of the Interior appropriations bill. DOI oversees the Bureau of Land Management, which would lease the area.

The amendment sought to stop funding for BLM leasing in that western Colorado area (OGJ, June 25, 2007, p. 30).

Questions were raised about financial estimates regarding potential Roan Plateau leasing revenues, and the amendment was blocked from being attached to the 2008 DOI Appropriations bill that passed the House floor on June 27.

"In effect, the [George W.] Bush administration is using exaggerated estimates of uncertain oil and gas revenue as an excuse to force additional oil and gas drilling on the West," Salazar said in a news release issued by his Washington, DC, office.

"Serious questions remain about the federal plan to open up more of the Roan to oil and gas drilling," Salazar said. "Had we been able to get a vote on our amendment, we are confident that we would have prevailed. We would have been successful in spite of the misinformation put out by proponents of drilling."

BLM authorized the drilling of as many as 1,570 gas wells over 20 years on part of the Roan Plateau in western Colorado. BLM indicated it probably will be at least 6 months before any leases are offered (OGJ, June 18, 2007, p. 31).

The decision issued by the Glenwood Springs BLM field office covers 70% of the 73,602 acres of the Roan. A final decision on the remaining 30%, which includes scenic and environmentally sensitive areas, is expected later this year following conclusion of a public comment period.

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