Plan ignores energy, legislators tell BLM

Twenty-three Colorado legislators, all Republicans, signed a letter urging the Bureau of Land Management to discard the proposed resource-management plan for the Colorado River Valley, saying it seems intended to discourage oil and gas development.

“The obvious analysis to manage oil and gas leasing to maximize socioeconomic benefits is omitted,” the letter says of the proposed plan. “It is as if the BLM directed its staff to consider only negative impacts from energy development and ignore the positive benefits — even if all those positive benefits outweigh all the negative impacts.”

The letter contains no signatures from Democratic legislators, but does cite the support of Gov. John Hickenlooper and U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, both Democrats, for an extended comment period for the plan.

“This bipartisan concern should not be ignored,” the letter said. “We urge you to take the time to revise this plan and resubmit it for public comment after careful consideration of the economic concerns raised by these comments.”

The letter was dated Feb. 23, and Wednesday was the last day for public comment on the plan, which will guide management of more than 500,000 acres the BLM manages from the field office in Silt. It includes lands in Eagle, Garfield, Mesa, Pitkin and Routt counties and a small portion of Rio Blanco County. Most of the rest of the area is managed by the U.S. Forest Service.

Among the signers were Sen. Steve King and Rep. Ray Scott, both Grand Junction Republicans.

Large stores of energy in recent years have become accessible because of new technologies, such as horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, and the legislators’ letter noted the plan fails to account for modern techniques employed by the oil and gas industry.

Adoption of the plan could imperil the jobs of some of the 137,000 people working in the state’s oil and gas industry, plus revenues to local governments for schools, roads, hospitals and other local services, the letter said.

Other signers include Rep. Don Coram of Montrose, Sen. Jean White of Hayden, Sen. Ellen Roberts of Durango and Rep. J. Paul Brown of Ignacio.

Rep. Laura Bradford, R-Collbran, hadn’t been approached, organizers with EIS Solutions said.

The BLM will take the letter into account, along with 30,000 public comments submitted to the agency as it continues with the process, BLM spokesman David Boyd said.


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