Salazars submit bill that could set Garfield County up to receive millions |

Salazars submit bill that could set Garfield County up to receive millions

Phillip Yates
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar and his brother, U.S. Rep. John Salazar, announced Thursday that they have submitted legislation to Congress that would immediately send money from the Anvil Points oil shale trust fund to Garfield and Rio Blanco counties.

The two Democrats said their bill would direct Colorado’s share of the fund toward land, water and wildlife protection, along with improvements for roads affected by oil and gas development. Garfield County could receive about $15 million if the legislation passes.

“Our bill will ensure that the oil and gas industry does not leave Garfield and Rio Blanco (counties) looking like a spoiled moonscape but instead allows the watersheds and wildlife there to prosper and continue to be a haven for sportsmen and recreationists from Colorado,” said Ken Salazar.

It is estimated that the Anvil Points trust fund now has about $86.5 million. Cleanup costs of the Anvil Points oil shale research site north of Rulison are expected to be about $20 million. The $66.5 million that is left over, if the Salazars’ legislation passes, would be split between the federal government and Garfield and Rio Blanco

counties, said Cody Wertz, a spokesman for Ken Salazar.

The brothers’ legislation comes after U.S. Department of Interior Secretary Dirk

Kempthorne wrote Colorado’s senators that the Bureau of Land Management is expected to award a contract in June to start the cleanup of the Anvil Points site.

The move will eventually allow Colorado to begin receiving its share of royalties generated from existing federal leases on the Roan Plateau once the cleanup at the

research site is complete.

A 1997 law transferring the Roan Plateau near Rifle to BLM authority barred sharing

of Roan gas lease revenues with the state until the federal government is fully reimbursed for cleanup of the site.

Kempthorne also told the senators that Interior Department officials are looking to lay claim to $24 million in the trust fund, a move that U.S. Sen. Wayne Allard, R-Colo., said he intends to block during the appropriations process.

The Anvil Points trust fund accrues about $1.5 million a month, according to the Salazars. Their legislation would also split that money 50-50 between the federal government and Rio Blanco and Garfield counties.

After cleanup of the site is certified and the trust fund ceases to exist, oil and gas

leasing revenues will be divided 50-50 between Colorado and the federal

government, according to the Salazars.

The Anvil Points issue has been a source of acrimony between Allard and Ken

Salazar in recent months. Allard has proposed his own initiative to free up revenues

from the Roan leases, and became upset that Salazar wanted to make support for

that effort contingent on Allard backing a moratorium on future leasing on the Roan.

Steve Wymer, a spokesman for Allard, said there shouldn’t be a federal mandate to

direct or not direct the money from the fund toward any particular county.

“The money should go to any county on the Western Slope that has been impacted

by this,” Wymer said. “The senator just doesn’t think federal intrusion into this process

is necessary.”

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