Controversy Over Roan Plateau Drilling
KREX News Room
GARFIELD COUNTY, Colo.- After more than a decade of acquiring land on the Roan Plateau, the Bureau of Land Management is closer than ever to utilizing that land for gas and oil development.
Public affairs specialist David Boyd said, "We estimate it's about nine trillion cubic feet of natural gas, which is a significant resource."
It took until 2008 to create a drilling plan.
"It's a very long, controversial issue," Boyd said.
Various coalitions and environmental groups have fought against the drilling from the start.
Paul Light, a board member of the Western Colorado Congress, said, "Our position is there are some rare habitats on top of the Roan Plateau that need to be protected ... cutthroat trout that are native to the area."
Now, four years after going to court, a judge has ruled on the BLM's drilling plan. It's a plan they say is restrictive, one that takes the pristine environment into consideration.
"She upheld most of the plan. She had a few specific concerns. One was that she didn't feel BLM had done a good enough job with air quality analysis," said Boyd.
Now the BLM must go back to the plan and address the judge's orders.
Light said, "With directional drilling it would be much better to access those minerals from the base down here, so that they're not drilling on top."
BLM officials say updated technology will allow for a better assessment of base drilling. However, other drilling options aren't off the table.
"There's existing leases on top of the Roan Plateau that would allow drilling from on top. The judge did not specifically cancel out those leases," said Boyd.
Depending on how the opposition reacts to the BLM's decision for the Roan Plateau in the future, this could be one of the last chapters of the debate, or it could still have a while to go.