Effort to delay drilling fails

An effort by U.S. Reps. John Salazar and Mark Udall of Colorado to delay drilling on the Roan Plateau failed Wednesday after what the duo called "strong-arm" tactics of the Bush administration.Salazar and Udall tried to attach an amendment to an appropriations bill that would have prevented the Interior Department from using any funds to lease lands on the Roan not already open to drilling.

In a statement, the pair said a "curiously timed and highly speculative" cost estimate was added to the amendment late Tuesday that doomed its passage. Both promised to pursue other strategies to delay drilling on the Roan.

"We are disappointed that the Bush administration has stepped in at the last minute and apparently strong-armed the Congressional Budget Office . . ." the lawmakers' statement said. Industry and its supporters say drilling restrictions imposed by the Bureau of Land Management will ensure that much of the region is protected.