Ritter Taking BLM to Task

Governor Bill Ritter is using both barrels of his pen responding to the Bureau of Land Management’s Roan Plateau drilling plan and its oil shale Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement. In both cases, Ritter has asked for restraint. In a letter to Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne, Ritter expressed his disappointment to allow drilling on the Roan Plateau near the Rifle area.

I am writing today to express my extreme disappointment with your decision to deny the State of Colorado’s request for a 120-day period to review the Roan Plateau Resources Management Plan prior to your issuing the Record of Decision. I am equally disappointed by your decision to lease the Roan for oil and gas development at this time.

…As you know, the Roan is a place of exceptional environmental and recreational qualities, and is of great importance to local communities.  The 75,000 comments received by the Bureau of Land Management during the public review process reflected a 98% desire to refrain from leasing the top of the Roan.  Your decision to ignore these public comments and limit my Administration’s participation in the process undermines efforts to build what should be a cooperative federal/state relationship…

… Your decision has led me to take a more active role in working with Congressmen John Salazar and Mark Udall to support funding limitations on the Department of Interior’s Appropriations Bill, or other legislation that will restrict BLM from going forward with leasing of the Roan during the coming year.

In regards to the BLM’s drive to complete its oil shale PEIS and therefore granted only a short response time for local governments, Ritter had some more strong words. From a press release:

The Colorado Department of Natural Resources, the Department of Public Health and Environment, and other state agencies worked extremely hard to submit these preliminary comments in a very short period of time, Gov. Ritter said.

We’re disappointed that the federal government denied our request to adequately review and provide more extensive input on a matter of such high importance to the people of Colorado.

Ritter initiated a letter at the recent Western Governors’ Association conference that supported Rep. Nick Rahall, who is chair of the House Natural Resources Committee, in his amendment to the Energy Act of 2005 that would slow down the process leading to commercial oil shale leasing in Colorado, Wyoming and Utah.

The letter read in part:

We recognize that oil shale is a critical resource for the entire nation, but the potential development of a large scale commercial oil shale program demands a thoughtful discussion

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Leslie Robinson

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