BLM to award contract for cleanup of Anvil Points near Rifle |

BLM to award contract for cleanup of Anvil Points near Rifle

Phillip Yates
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” U.S. Department of Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne has written to Colorado’s senators that the Bureau of Land Management is expected to award a contract in June to start the cleanup of the Anvil Points oil shale research site north of Rulison.

The move will eventually allow Colorado to begin receiving its share of royalties generated from existing federal leases on the Roan Plateau once the cleanup is complete.

U.S. Sen. Wayne Allard, R-Colo., welcomed the news, but his staff cautioned that Interior Department officials are angling to swipe about $24 million from the Anvil Points oil shale trust fund ” now estimated to have about $86.5 million.

About $1 million to $2 million is deposited in the fund every month, according to Kempthorne’s letter.

Steve Wymer, a spokesman for Allard, said a provision in the Interior Department budget released Tuesday would siphon off money in the trust fund that should go to Colorado. U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Colo., failed to support legislation proposed by Allard last year that would have returned gas lease money back to Colorado.

“He has had one reason or another to oppose that (Allard legislation),” Wymer said. “But we have been saying, no, no, if you don’t (support it), this money is going to disappear. And here today we are told by Secretary (Kempthorne) that, yes, they are going to take $24 million. Unless we pass our legislative fix, that money is going to disappear.”

Acrimony between Colorado’s two senators over the Anvil Points issue reached a high level in December. Allard became upset that Salazar wanted to make his support for freeing up revenues from existing Roan Plateau gas leases contingent on Allard backing a moratorium on future leasing there.

A 1997 law transferring the Roan Plateau near Rifle to BLM authority barred sharing of Roan gas lease revenues with the state until the federal government is fully reimbursed for cleanup of the Anvil Points oil shale research site.

“Because I have not received the support of the Colorado Congressional delegation, we have not been successful in protecting the millions of royalty dollars already generated and our share of these is now a prime target for others to pick off,” Allard said in a statement Wednesday.

Cody Wertz, a spokesman for Salazar, said Allard’s legislation, as drafted, would not have gotten the money from the fund to Colorado immediately, and would not have gone far enough to protect the money in the Anvil Points trust fund. He also said Salazar was committed to blocking efforts by the Department of the Interior or anyone else in Washington to take money from the fund.

“Senator Salazar is not going to stand by and allow the federal government to pilfer from that fund,” Wertz said. “Senator Salazar has been looking at this comprehensively. He has been looking at this from the perspective of Western Slope communities and Colorado itself to make sure Colorado gets its fair share.”

In January, Salazar and his brother, U.S. Rep. John Salazar, D-Manassa, along with U.S. Rep. Mark Udall, D-Eldorado Springs, proposed legislation that would transfer Colorado’s share of an estimated $80 million in the Anvil Points oil shale trust fund back to the state.

“We are going to continue to work on our (legislation), and see how to get those funds as soon as possible for Colorado,” Wertz said.

The legislation proposed by the Salazars and Udall would direct $40 million in “spillover funds” to water and land conservation efforts and roads impacted by oil and gas development in Garfield and Rio Blanco counties.

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