The Bureau of Land Management has agreed to establish a publicly-accessible drilling permit tracking system and to reexamine its analysis of the air pollution resulting from 34 oil and gas projects under the jurisdiction of the Colorado River Valley Field Office. The agreement settles a 2011 lawsuit brought by Earthjustice calling for a more thorough examination of pollution from oil and gas drilling, which is one of the main sources of regional haze and ozone pollution in the Intermountain West.
The Roan Plateau, just west of Rifle, Colorado, provides an island of near-unrivaled biodiversity in western Colorado. The Roan contains essential habitat for genetically pure populations of Colorado River cutthroat trout; supports Colorado's greatest herds of elk and mule deer; and hosts a number of rare and sensitive plants. BLM itself acknowledges that the Roan also contains at least 19,000 acres of wilderness-quality lands. The area is extremely popular with sportsmen for backcountry angling, hunting and other recreation.
The BLM, however, plans to lease the Roan for oil and gas development, and to allow drilling more than 3,600 wells on the Upper Plateau. BLM admits that the backcountry and wilderness values for which the Roan is known would be seriously compromised by such intensive development. BLM's leasing plan also disregards widespread opposition from the towns and counties in the area, as well as from Colorado's governor and congressional delegation -- all of whom sought to additional protections for the Roan.
Earthjustice represents a coalition of groups in challenging the BLM leasing plan.
The fossil fuel industry is continuing its efforts to turn Colorado’s pristine Roan Plateau into a industrial drilling zone by filing a challenge to a District Court Judge’s ruling requiring the BLM to conduct a new environmental review of the area. Efforts to exploit Roan Plateau date back to a Bush-era plan that failed to adequately consider the potential impacts of drilling.
The Bureau of Land Management will conduct a second environmental impact review related to drilling on Colorado’s Roan Plateau. A judge recently ruled that the original analysis, conducted in 2006, did not take all relevant factors into account.
The Bureau of Land Management will begin a new environmental analysis of drilling on the Roan Plateau in Colorado in response to a federal judge’s June 2012 ruling that determined the agency approved leases without following proper procedure. That ruling came about in a lawsuit brought by Earthjustice to protect the Roan Plateau.
The Bureau of Land Management has filed a motion in court asking it to send the three master drilling plans back for further environmental analysis of potential air quality impacts. In the meantime, the agency asked for approval of 30 other drilling plans and dismissal of the lawsuit.