Tuesday, June 17, 2014

'Win-win' deal reportedly struck on leases in hotly contested Colo. plateau

A decadelong battle over whether to drill for gas atop a wildlife-rich plateau in western Colorado could be nearing a resolution, with environmentalists, industry, Colorado's governor and the congressional delegation reportedly backing a proposed settlement. While far from final, the proposal is aimed at resolving one of the longest-running public-lands feuds in the Centennial State. At issue is the Roan Plateau, an area blessed by an abundance of natural gas as well as major herds of mule deer and elk and genetically pure Colorado River cutthroat trout. Controversy over the Roan has simmered since 2007, when the Bureau of Land Management opened most of the lands to drilling and a year later sold roughly 55,000 acres of leases, netting a record $114 million in bonus bids. Denver-based Bill Barrett Corp., a major leaseholder, has proposed drilling as many as 3,200 natural gas wells atop the plateau. Now, attorneys representing environmental groups and industry have reportedly reached a proposed settlement that would have the Interior Department buy back some of the Roan leases and alter its preparation of a revised RMP. It would also accelerate the production of gas elsewhere, create jobs, maintain most of the "best leases" and provide regulatory certainty for all involved. That's all according to an April 1 letter from Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Colo.) obtained by Greenwire through a Freedom of Information Act request...more

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