BLM extends scoping period for gas lease review |

BLM extends scoping period for gas lease review

A public scoping period that begins with a series of meetings in Glenwood Springs, Carbondale and Aspen this week as the U.S. Bureau of Land Management starts its review of 65 existing oil and gas leases on the White River National Forest has been extended until May 16.

The BLM is conducting an Environmental Impact Statement to address deficiencies that were identified by the Interior Board of Land Appeals in a 1993 Forest Service EIS that was used as the basis for issuing the leases across an area extending from the embattled Thompson Divide region southwest of Glenwood Springs to an area just east of De Beque.

Starting with a meeting from 4-7 p.m. today at the Glenwood Springs Community Center and again from 4-7 p.m. Wednesday at Carbondale Town Hall, the scoping meetings give the public a chance to tell the BLM what issues and concerns they think should be addressed in the EIS.

A third meeting will be from 3-6 p.m. Thursday at the Pitkin County Library in Aspen, and a fourth meeting has been scheduled for 4-7 p.m. May 1 at the De Beque Community Center.

“Our goal is to provide the public opportunities to have their questions answered and to provide specific, effective comments,” Steve Bennett, field manager for the Colorado River Valley Field Office in Silt, said in a news release.

The meeting format will allow the public to provide written or oral comments, or ask questions of BLM and Forest Service specialists one-on-one or during an open forum.

The first 30 minutes of each meeting will be an open house format, followed by a 10-minute presentation and 20 minutes for questions and answers. Oral comments will be taken an hour into the meeting for 45 minutes. The meetings will conclude with another 30-minute open house and a second 45-minute oral comment period.

Oral comments will be limited to two minutes. More detailed comments can be submitted in writing, according to the BLM release.

The federal review includes 25 leases in the rugged Thompson Divide area, where conservation groups and local governments have opposed the recent extension of leases held by a handful of energy companies that want to drill for natural gas in the area.

The BLM expects to release a draft EIS and preferred alternative in early 2015. Options could include canceling, modifying or keeping the existing leases in place.

Additional information about the EIS scoping period is available at:

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