Those opposed to oil drilling in Whitewater out in force
Public comment against a proposed oil-drilling development near Whitewater swamped the number of letters offered to the Bureau of Land Management about its draft plan for managing more than 1 million acres in western Colorado.
The bureau is sifting its way through 24,000 comments on the proposal by FRAM Operating LLC, the bulk of them being form-letter comments generated by a project of the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Officials also are culling 4,000 comments on the draft resource management plan for the BLM’s Grand Junction regional office, a project that sparked sharp criticism and several public meetings, most of them focused on the travel management aspects of the plan, which also addresses minerals development, shooting and resource preservation. The plan is intended to guide the agency in managing land in Mesa and adjacent counties for two decades.
On its website, the Natural Resources Defense Council urges members to “save the Grand Valley from destructive oil and gas development” and oppose the FRAM Whitewater Oil Master Development Plan.
FRAM is proposing development over four years of as many as 108 wells on 12 pads overlooking the Gunnison River, upstream from its confluence with the Colorado River.
The BLM also received “several local comments” on the drilling proposal, Grand Junction Field Office Manager Katie Stevens said.
Travel-management aspects sparked many of the 4,000 comments, but other writers addressed issues such as air quality and questioned assumptions about the economic value of recreation, Stevens said.
“People did try to understand and give good comments,” Stevens said.
The campaign generated by the Natural Resources Defense Council asks that the BLM “reject the proposal to allow drilling and fracking in this region,” while also calling for a resource-management plan, health-impact assessment and an air-quality-impact analysis.