Ritter, Salazar say there’s no hurry to drill after getting aerial view of Roan | PostIndependent.com

Ritter, Salazar say there’s no hurry to drill after getting aerial view of Roan

Post Independent/Kara K. Pearson

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.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Glenwood Springs and Garfield County make the Post Independent’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.

For tax deductible donations, click here.

Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User