Colorado Roan Plateau Drilling Battle Leads to Legal CompromiseSource: The Denver Post | 24 November 2014
Federal land managers and the oil and gas industry on 21 November announced a deal designed to end a decade-long battle over drilling on western Colorado’s Roan Plateau, a lofty oasis rich in wildlife and natural gas.
All but two of 19 leases the feds issued in 2008 letting Denver-based Bill Barrett Corp. drill on top of the plateau will be canceled. And the government will reimburse Barrett USD 47.6 million. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said the land never should have been leased.
“There are huge lessons learned here that will help us in the future,” Jewell said in a Denver Post interview.
This dispute ranks among the nation’s more complicated cases in trying to balance the oil and gas boom with preserving a pristine environment, she said.
“There are places that are too special to develop.”
Conservation groups have fought for years to keep the 54,000-acre Roan Plateau from becoming an industrial zone.
Under the legal settlement, drilling still will be allowed on land in canyons and on 16,000 acres around the base of the plateau. But that won’t happen for at least 2 years—after the US Bureau of Land Management completes a large-scale plan for limiting surface impact. Companies likely would be required to drill horizontally from outside ecologically sensitive terrain.