Rifle hosts first quarterly energy briefing | PostIndependent.com

Rifle hosts first quarterly energy briefing

Heidi Rice
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

RIFLE, Colorado ” A handful of people turned out Tuesday morning for the first of the new quarterly “energy briefings” meetings being sponsored by the Rifle Area Chamber of Commerce and Williams Production.

The guest speaker was David Boyd, public affairs specialist for the northwest Colorado office of the Bureau of Land Management located in Glenwood Springs.

Boyd’s topic of discussion was the federal mineral leasing process and statistics, which included the recently leased lands on the Roan Plateau.

According to Boyd, the BLM manages 258 million acres of land in the western United States ” mostly in western Colorado. The Glenwood Springs field office alone takes care of a half million acres, 200,000 of which are federal leases located under private land.

Boyd said the BLM was formed in 1946 to manage federal lands used for grazing, mining, use of right-of-ways, recreation, wildlife habitat, managing fires and oil and gas development. But it wasn’t until 1983 that it became responsible for the onshore oil and gas leasing of federal lands.

Both the Piceance Basin and Mesa Verde gas fields are currently seeing the majority of gas fields in western Colorado.

“We don’t anticipate any development farther east of the Hogback in the next 20 years,” Boyd said. “It will stay where it’s been.”

The BLM recently began selling the federal leases on the Roan Plateau in August ” about 54,000 acres ” which has brought in about $114 million, Boyd said.

Colorado’s portion is about $56 million.

Protests and lawsuits by several environmental groups have been filed in opposition to the leases. But Boyd pointed out that even if the federal leases were stopped, there would still be oil and gas drilling on private lands.

“Nine percent of what is being approved in Colorado is on federal lands,” he said. “Eleven percent of what is being drilled in Mesa and Garfield counties is on federal lands.”

The BLM lease sales will be held quarterly with a 60-day notice in which protests can be filed.

Boyd went on to explain how federal mineral leasing works and what to expect in the future.

“It’s not whether oil and gas drilling can occur, it’s how or where,” he said. “The next step is site-specific planning and master plans of development.”

The quarterly briefings were established on the suggestion of Williams Production, according to Annick Pruett, executive director for the Rifle Area Chamber of Commerce.

“The meetings will be held quarterly unless there’s a need,” Pruett said. “The Grand Junction chamber do these monthly and Williams approached us last spring about doing them. We finally got a date narrowed down.”

There will be a different topic every meeting. Chamber members and their guests are invited to attend.

For more information about the energy briefings, contact the Rifle Area Chamber of Commerce at 625-2085.

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