Roan Plateau leases officially canceled

The Bureau of Land Management on Friday officially canceled 17 of the 19 natural gas leases on top of the Roan Plateau west of Rifle, part of a landmark settlement agreement announced by Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell in November.

That agreement included refunding approximately $47.6 million in bonus bids and annual rental payments to leaseholders Bill Barrett Corp.

In exchange, the BLM is working on a plan to allow the two remaining Barrett leases and a dozen other leases near the base of the Roan to be developed.

All of the leases had been locked up for the past six years due to a legal challenge from conservation groups regarding the original BLM Environmental Impact Statement under which the leases were sold.

The settlement was negotiated between conservation groups and oil and gas leaseholders, while the BLM is in the process of conducting a court-ordered supplemental EIS that will address long-term management of leases in the area.

The lease cancellation was the first step in carrying out the settlement, which, according to a statement from the BLM, “protects wildlife and supports opportunities for outdoor recreation on the Roan Plateau while also encouraging oil and gas development.”

The ongoing environmental analysis is still required to look at a range of management alternatives, including one based on the terms of the settlement that would prevent releasing the canceled lease areas on top of the Roan Plateau for the anticipated 15- to 20-year life of the decision.

The environmental assessment and decision record for the lease cancellation is available at

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