Two of Colorado’s oil and gas drilling battlegrounds — the Roan Plateau near Rifle and the Vermillion Basin outside of Craig- will headline the discussion in a special press conference with US Sen. Wayne Allard (R-CO) and State Sen. Josh Penry (R-Fruita) in Grand Junction on Saturday.Last May, Allard sponsored Senate Bill 1517 that proposed to disperse royalties from energy development activities on the Roan Plateau, which was once part of the Naval Oil Shale Reserve under the Department of Defense. Currently, the royalties are being held in the federal Oil Shale Trust Fund.
There are millions of dollars in the fund that could be released to communities affected by energy development on the Roan Plateau, according to Allard.
Sen. Penry has proposed setting up a permanent trust fund for higher education from royalties and severance taxes collected from proposed drilling revenues in the environmentally sensitive areas atop the Roan and Vermillion Basin, now under control of the Bureau of Land Management.
However, there has not been a definitive answer to whether Roan Plateau energy development royalties would continue to go into the Oil Shale Trust Fund instead of being divided into state and local coffers. Revenue totals from drilling in both areas have also been debated.
Sen. Ken Salazar (D-CO), Congressmen Mark Udall (D-CO) and John Salazar,D-CO) and Gov. Ritter have all requested that energy development be delayed on the Roan Plateau and the Vermillion Basin until more environmentally sensitive drilling practices can be assured.
The half hour Allard/Penry meeting will start at 3:30 pm in the Federal Building in downtown Grand Junction.