Citizens questioncomment deadline
A 90-day period for commenting on the Roan Plateau draft plan “seems to me a little short,” Congressman-elect John Salazar said Thursday.Salazar said it’s important that the public have a voice in the plateau’s future and an adequate opportunity to comment. He said he would be interested in pushing for more time if that seems warranted, though it’s too soon to tell.Salazar isn’t the only one to question the deadline. Clare Bastable of the Colorado Mountain Club said she has heard local residents express concern over whether they will have time to review the draft plan and voice their views by the March 4 deadline.”I’ve heard citizens say that they’d like to see the comment period extended because it would allow for more time,” she said.Steven Hall, a BLM spokesman, said the question of extending the deadline has come up in discussions with cooperating agencies, which include the state of Colorado, Rifle, Parachute, and Garfield and Rio Blanco counties. But no one has requested a deadline extension, he said.”That’s certainly is always something that we would be open to listening to,” he said.He said the BLM is working in the meantime with those agencies to provide public forums between now and March 4.Some of those agency representatives are reluctant to see the deadline postponed because it would drag out the plateau planning process even longer, Hall said.Bastable said people are so busy with the holidays that in essence there are only two months to comment: January and February.”It’s kind of a shame that the draft came out a week before Thanksgiving. The month of December is kind of a tough one,” she said.Hall said the BLM knew there might be concern about rolling out the plan before the holidays but didn’t want to further delay release of the long-awaited plan.Bastable said she thinks local counties want time to hear what citizens say in their comments to the BLM before taking positions of their own on the plan.While counties should comment before the March 4 deadline, they also will continue to be able to provide input as cooperating agencies when work begins on the final plan, Hall said.Greg Schnacke of the Colorado Oil & Gas Association said COGA is continuing to operate under the assumption the deadline will be March 4.”We’re still in the early stages of really digging into the proposal and trying to understand some things,” he said.”We’re still in the early stages of really digging into the proposal and trying to understand some things,” he said.
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