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Feds Set New Rules for Drilling Near Dinosaur National Monument

PHOTO: The U.S. Bureau of Land Management has set new rules for oil and gas drilling on public lands near Dinosaur National Monument to minimize environmental impacts to an area that attracts 275,000 visitors annually and pumps over $15 million into the local economy. Photo credit: Ken Walker/Wikimedia Commons.
PHOTO: The U.S. Bureau of Land Management has set new rules for oil and gas drilling on public lands near Dinosaur National Monument to minimize environmental impacts to an area that attracts 275,000 visitors annually and pumps over $15 million into the local economy. Photo credit: Ken Walker/Wikimedia Commons.
March 31, 2015

DENVER - The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has weighed in on how nearly 1.5 million acres of public land in northwest Colorado can be used by the oil and gas industry, including new protections near Dinosaur National Monument.

Oil and gas industry advocates claim the plan will limit their access to surface area development, and force directional drilling. But Jim Spehar, former mayor of Grand Junction and a sportsman's roundtable delegate with Colorado Parks and Wildlife, believes the benefits outweigh the costs.

"Smart people in the industry accept these kind of limitations and celebrate that new technology," says Spehar. "It may cost a little more, but the long-term benefits are not arguable."

Spehar says the BLM's Dinosaur Trail Master Leasing Plan strikes a good balance between energy development and protections for air quality, recreation, wildlife habitat and cultural resources.

The plan reduces previous restrictions for when companies can drill - if wells are consolidated to limit their impact on native wildlife. Spehar notes that, working alongside scientists and managers with Colorado Parks and Wildlife, oil and gas development can continue in tandem with conservation efforts.

"They can work on timing restrictions so that migration areas, birthing areas, calving areas, winter and summer ranges are protected at the necessary times, and still allow the industry a chance to operate."

According to a 2013 National Park Service report, Dinosaur National Monument attracts 275,000 visitors that pump over $15 million into the local economy annually. Spehar adds that the White River, Yampa River and surrounding public lands covered in the plan also are important recreation destinations for rafting, fishing and hunting.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - CO