Ritter, Salazar say there’s no hurry to drill after getting aerial view of Roan
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, CO
RIFLE ” Two of Colorado’s top elected officials got a bird’s-eye view of northwest Colorado’s dramatic landscapes and intensive energy development Tuesday morning and said there’s no hurry to drill in special places such as the Roan Plateau.
Gov. Bill Ritter and U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar, both Democrats, flew by helicopter over the plateau and also visited Moffat County’s Vermillion Basin, another area of controversy when it comes to energy development on federal lands.
In a press conference afterward at the Garfield County Regional Airport, Salazar said some 4,000 to 5,000 natural gas wells already have been drilled in northwest Colorado, and a total of 60,000 eventually may be drilled in the region. With so much development on the way, it shouldn’t be a problem for the federal government to honor Ritter’s request for 120 days to review the Bureau of Land Management’s plans for drilling on the Roan, Salazar said.
The BLM worked with the state in developing its Roan plan, but Ritter took office this year and said his new administration should be given a chance to offer input. The federal government denied that request.
“We just want a productive conversation with the BLM,” Ritter said.
Like Salazar, Ritter questioned the federal government’s rush to drill in places such as the Roan when so much energy development already is occurring in the region.
“We don’t need to be gluttons about this,” he said.
Ritter also said he wouldn’t rule out consideration of a proposal by state Rep. Al White, R-Winter Park, and Josh Penry, R-Fruita, to use as much as $1 billion or more from drilling on the Roan to create trust funds to help meet higher education needs and pay for local impacts of energy development. But he said it’s important not to let state budget discussions become all about the Roan, and he questioned how far natural gas revenues from the plateau could go toward meeting long-term higher education needs.
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