White River oil, gas comment period extended by BLM
The Bureau of Land Management has decided to go along with requests from the energy industry, environmentalists and local governments for more time to digest its new oil and gas proposal.
The BLM’s White River Field Office, based in Meeker, has agreed to provide an additional 45 days to comment on its proposal for revising how it manages oil and gas development under its resource management plan.
The agency also has announced a Dec. 3 open house in Meeker to specifically address what it calls innovative wildlife protections within the plan. In seeking more comment time, the industry and others had cited the need to more fully comprehend the reach and implications of those protections.
The comment deadline has been extended from Dec. 14 to Jan. 28.
The BLM’s preferred management alternative envisions development of as many as 15,042 wells on 1,800 well pads over 20 years in Rio Blanco County, southern Moffat County and northern Garfield County.
WPX Energy and Encana USA, Associated Governments of Northwest Colorado, Garfield County and several oil and gas industry groups in Colorado had asked the BLM for 90 more days to comment. The Wilderness Society asked for 45 extra days.
In asking for more time, WPX said in a letter that file geodatabase, or shape files, necessary to understand restrictions and stipulations being proposed by the agency weren’t made available until Oct. 31, and the company needs more time to able to review them and offer comments. Encana, which in its own letter identified itself as a major leaseholder within the White River Field Office’s management area, expressed similar concerns about what the shapefiles mean for wildlife management.
The field office’s jurisdiction contains North America’s largest migratory elk herd and some of its largest migratory mule deer herds. The agency has proposed many incentive-based approaches to protecting wildlife from oil and gas development, such as allowing for offsite wildlife projects to mitigate impacts from drilling.
The Meeker open house will be from 5 to 7 p.m. at the White River Field Office, 220 E. Market St.