No accord in 3rd round of Roan discussions

Continuing settlement talks have yet to produce a resolution to a lawsuit regarding natural gas development on the Roan Plateau.

Attorneys for environmental groups, energy companies and the federal government met Friday for a third round of court-ordered negotiations, and again they were unable to reach an agreement.

Michael Freeman, an attorney for Earthjustice, which is representing the Colorado Environmental Coalition in the lawsuit, said it appears another meeting will take place in a few weeks, but no date has been set.

“I’m still pretty skeptical that we’ll reach compromise, but we’re going to continue making our best efforts on this thing,” he said.

The lawsuit challenges the Bureau of Land Management’s leasing of 55,000 acres on and surrounding the Roan Plateau northwest of Rifle in 2008.

Environmentalists particularly want to keep drilling off the plateau top. Bill Barrett Corp. owns a 90 percent interest in the leases on top.

Attorneys are under court order not to discuss particulars of the settlement talks. But Freeman told The Daily Sentinel editorial board in November, “We’re not going to agree to something that doesn’t protect the top of the Roan. … This is a remarkable place, and we’re not going to compromise on that.”

He also said the groups will appeal if a judge rules against them.

“We like our chances in the lawsuit. We think our claims are strong to begin with,” he said.


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