Case in Point: Misguided Federal Policies Are Delaying Development of Our Public Lands

January 28, 2013

Roan Plateau showcases why oil & gas production is declining on federal lands, hindering western economic growth and job creation


(DENVER)- Today Western Energy Alliance reacted to the Department of Interior's (DOI) decision to once again revise the existing Resource Management Plan Amendment (RMPA) for oil and gas drilling atop the Roan Plateau in Western Colorado. Despite the obvious economic and energy benefits it brings to our nation, the Administration continues to impose federal obstacles preventing the responsible development of western oil and natural gas on our public lands.


Kathleen Sgamma, Vice President of Government & Public Affairs for Western Energy Alliance, released the following statement:


"It's now been over 15 years since Congress mandated that the natural gas on the Roan Plateau be developed. BLM spent an exhaustive 8 years conducting in-depth environmental analysis, and a judge found only minor deficiencies in their plan, which can be corrected relatively quickly. Rather than making the adjustments and getting on with allowing the development of American energy and job creation, Interior has decided to go back to the beginning and further delay economic growth on Colorado's West Slope. This is yet another example of why production of natural gas on public lands is down, even as overall production on private lands has increased dramatically."


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Quick Facts on the Naval Oil Shale Reserves 1 & 3 (minor portion of the Roan Plateau)


Oil and natural gas development on the Roan Plateau in Western Colorado is not a new topic. Dating back to the 1910s, when a series of Executive Orders set aside government-owned petroleum and oil shale reserves, including Naval Oil Shale Reserves No. 1 and 3 on and below the Roan Plateau. (click here to view BLM's Roan Plateau Timeline)


Under BLM's current land use plan for the Naval Oil Shale Reserves (NOSR) 1 & 3:

  • Only 350 acres of disturbance at any given time, while protecting 38,427 acres from any development at all, including nearly 23,000 acres of wildlife areas identified by the Colorado Division of Wildlife.
  • Drilling and related activities are limited from December through April in nearly 35,000 acres of critical big game winter range below the rim.
  • A drilling area would have to be restored before work could begin in another area.
  • About half the public lands on top would be off limits.
  • No new roads or pipelines would be allowed on the sides of the plateau visible from I-70.
  • Four Areas of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC) are designated in the plan, covering over 21,000 acres, or 29% of the planning area.
  • Large portions of the ACECs are provided protection from long-term, ground-disturbing activities.
  • These include the entire Parachute Creek watershed, other riparian areas, and large blocks of sensitive habitats for certain vegetation and wildlife.
  • Slopes greater than 20% on top of the plateau are off limits to development, thereby further protecting the canyons and precipices.
  • The plateau top already has 157 miles of roads and 31 wells drilled on private lands.

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About Western Energy Alliance
Western Energy Alliance, founded in 1974 as the Independent Petroleum Association of Mountain States, is a non-profit trade association representing more than 400 companies engaged in all aspects of environmentally responsible exploration and production of oil and natural gas in the West. More information on Western Energy Alliance and its members is available at www.westernenergyalliance.org.