BLM plans another review of Roan Plateau drilling

A new environmental study of drilling proposed on the Roan Plateau, welcomed by environmental organizations and criticized as repetitive and delaying by industry, is to be complete in two years.

The Bureau of Land Management announced Friday it would conduct a supplemental environmental impact statement in order to address questions raised by the U.S. District Court.

“We will address the specific rulings in the court’s decision through this planning effort, which includes opportunities for robust public involvement,” BLM State Director Helen Hankins said.

The supplemental study is “a second chance to protect the Roan Plateau,” Luke Schafer of Conservation Colorado said. “We’re happy to see the Bureau of Land Management going back to the drawing board and taking a hard look at what kind of management will promulgate the best plan possible.”

Another environmental study, though, amounts to a delaying tactic, said David Ludlam, executive director of the West Slope Colorado Oil and Gas Association.

“The BLM is stuck in the movie ‘Groundhog Day.’ They wake up and conduct the same study day after day, year after year, decade after decade,” Ludlam said. “And while their findings never change, the price tag to taxpayers goes up.”

Officials hope to complete the study in two years, BLM spokesman David Boyd said.

The BLM has had jurisdiction over the area since 1997, when Congress transferred control of Naval Oil Shale Reserves No. 1 and No. 3 to the agency from the Department of Energy. The BLM leased 54,631 acres in 2008 for $113.9 million, of which Colorado received almost $56 million.

The plateau and surrounding lands are estimated to contain 15.4 trillion cubic feet of recoverable natural gas.

It’s also home to deer and elk and a genetically pure stain of cutthroat trout.

The new analysis will consider a full range of alternatives, from no leasing of the top of the plateau to ambitious drilling, and it will also consider a citizens’ proposal to drill into the plateau from below, as directed by the federal court, Boyd said.

The bureau will conduct two scoping meetings to answer questions and take written comments.

The first meeting will be Feb. 27 at the Colorado River Valley Field Office, 2300 River Frontage Road in Silt, and the second on Feb. 28 at the Clarion Inn, 755 Horizon Drive, Grand Junction. Both meetings will be open from 4 to 7 p.m.

Scoping comments need to be received by March 30 and may be sent by email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address); by fax at 970-876-9090 or by mail to the Bureau of Land Management, Colorado River Valley Field Office, Roan Plateau Comments, 2300 River Frontage Road, Silt 81652.


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