Colorado’s Roan Plateau–Fate Not Yet Sealed

The NY Times has an article posted last night about the battle that still rages over Roan Plateau:

RIFLE, Colo. – Standing in a canyon in hilly terrain, Ken Neubecker cast his fly into a cold stream. Minutes later he had a bite. Thrashing at the end of his line was a speckled green fish, a scarce Colorado cutthroat trout.

Ken Neubecker, president of the Colorado chapter of Trout Unlimited, hopes to preserve the dwindling number of wild spaces.

Mr. Neubecker was fishing on the Roan Plateau, a high stretch of terrain beloved by hunters, anglers and hikers for its clear streams, herds of deer and elk, and rugged beauty.

“There just aren’t many places like this in the West,” Mr. Neubecker said. “It’s a real gem.”

Colorado’s Roan Plateau is one of the state’s top areas for species diversity, home to the purest strains of native Colorado River cutthroat trout in the nation, plants that occur nowhere else on earth, and a plethora of all types of wildlife.

In fact, according to the Department of Interior, the Roan Plateau is comparable–in terms of its biological values–with only three other places in the state, all of which are protected within the National Park system.

But these values mean little to Bill Barret Corporation which holds the leases to these lands, the article goes on to note:

“What is really special about the Roan Plateau, these lands in particular, is the incredible energy density beneath it,” said Duane Zavadil, vice president of the Bill Barrett Corporation, a Denver energy company that holds drilling rights to the Roan.

Given that the gas under Roan is absolutely dwarfed by the shale plays back east, which are much closer to both pipeline infrastructure and the market, and that NatGas is currently so glutted on the market that prices have crashed around the globe, this claim is suspect at best.  

What is ‘real special’ to BBC is that they stand to make massive profits from the fire sale prices they paid to lease one of Colorado’s last best undeveloped chunks of public lands in the middle of the massive industrial zone that is the Piceance Basin.

In August 2008, as the Bush administration was offering its final gifts to its oil and gas patrons, it leased offed every inch of public land in the Roan Plateau Planning Area for oil and gas drilling, in spite of have received over 15,000 protests on the lease sale (a record), and against overwhelming public and local community opposition.  

Prior to the lease sale, parroting Greg Schnake,  Sen. Penry predicted $2 billion in leasing revenue.  The actual sale price was about 1/10th of that, for which Sen. Penry promptly blamed the local communities and conservationists that wanted these spectacular hunting, fishing, and recreation lands preserved for public, rather than industrial, use.

Ten sportsmen, hunting, and conservation groups filed suit claiming that the Bureau of Land Management had failed in it’s obligation to adequately analyze the impacts of it’s actions.

The BLM (under the Bush administration) considered the impacts of about 200 wells that it claimed was the reasonable amount of foreseeable development over the next twenty years.

Bill Barret Corporation, upon buying the leases from the venture capital firm Vantage Energy, immediately announced its intention to drill more than 3,000 wells in 20 years, more than 15X the numbers considered ‘reasonably foreseeable’ (upon which all its environmental analysis was based) by Bush’s BLM.

Having touted the BLM’s plan as “well-crafted” and “the strictest ever in terms of environmental protections” Sen. Penry and his oil and gas paymasters have been strangely silent since BBC’s intentions were made public.  


4 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. allyncooper says:

    The less said about this, the better…..

  2. Sage Sam says:

    so it has some gas under it?  Well shit let’s drill it.  You know, “American energy independence” or “bridge fuel to the future” and whatever other tripe comes dribbling out of the mouths of sycophants.

    At some point I hope people realize that the greatest resource we have is our public lands, especially those areas that have been untrammeled by man.  I want my children to see some of America as my Grandfather, Father and I have seen it.  

    Mortgaging our past and future for a little bit of prosperity right now is not an investment strategy that pays off, it’s a course in failure that we need not repeat again.  

  3. The realistThe realist says:

    Under other circumstances it probably would have been designated a protected wildlife area, or even a national monument.  If you haven’t been on the Plateau, take a guided tour some time.

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