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BLM Will 'Go it Alone' on the Roan

March 14, 2008

Washington, DC - The federal government is champing at the bit to get oil and gas drilling underway on Colorado's Roan Plateau, despite objections from the state. The federal Bureau of Land Management announced Thursday that it will move ahead with plans for oil and gas development, ignoring Gov. Bill Ritter's suggestion that thousands more acres of wilderness in the area be protected.

Steve Smith with the Wilderness Society in Denver says the BLM needs to slow down "and see if we really need to invade a remarkable area of natural splendor like this."

The BLM says its original plan provides adequate environmental protections.

The Roan is valuable habitat that should be protected, at least for a while, Smith says, "until you have gas production technologies that can get the gas out without harming those natural values."

Ritter had submitted a compromise to the BLM, but it was rejected. Disappointed, he said he plans to work with Colorado's congressional delegation on a legislative alternative.

"Now is the time for Congress to step up and say 'Roan Plateau needs to be protected and not be sacrificed for a bit more gas in an ocean of production.'"

Eric Mack/Don Mathisen, Public News Service - CO