Salazar asks Interior secretary to withhold leasing on Roan |

Salazar asks Interior secretary to withhold leasing on Roan

Dennis Webb
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar says he is awaiting a response from Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne after the two met Wednesday morning to discuss Salazar’s concerns related to energy development in western Colorado.

Salazar, D-Colo., said Kempthorne promised to prepare a written response to the senator’s request for assurances that the federal government “will not be running roughshod over western Colorado.”

Specifically, Salazar wants the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to withhold oil and gas leasing on the Roan Plateau near Rifle until Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter is given more time to comment on the BLM’s plan to allow drilling. He also wants the state to be given a longer time to comment on an environmental study related to possible commercial oil shale development on federal lands.

“I think he did understand where I was coming from. I told him we were essentially heading to a point of collision with the federal government and the BLM. I told him that it was up to him to try to avoid that train wreck,” Salazar said.

Salazar has placed a hold on the nomination of James Caswell to be the new director of the BLM and says it will remain in place until his demands are satisfied.

President Bush could name Caswell as a recess appointment when the Senate is out of session in August, but Salazar said that would reduce Caswell’s effectiveness.

“He would go in there with a significant cloud over his head in terms of being able to act as the head of the BLM,” Salazar said.

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