Washington - Legislation that would have stopped drilling atop the Roan Plateau and slowed oil shale development in the state was cut from the energy bill the House will consider today. The language had been in a bill passed by the House this summer, put there by Rep. Mark Udall, D-Eldorado Springs, and Rep. John Salazar, D-Manassa. But when lawmakers merged that House bill with a Senate-passed energy bill, they did not include the provision.
Udall said Senate lawmakers did not want the language in the bill. But Steve Wymer, spokesman for Sen. Wayne Allard, R-Colo., said that House Democratic leaders chose not to include it.
Lawmakers in Colorado's congressional delegation have split on whether drilling should be allowed atop the 9,000-foot-tall plateau in northwestern Colorado. Udall, Rep. Salazar and Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Colo., want to limit or stop it. Allard supports drilling and believes the issue should be left to local authorities.
The energy industry says the area's vast supplies of natural gas are needed to serve an energy-hungry nation. Development advocates have calculated that the 56,238-acre Naval Oil Shale Reserve - one of the Roan's richest areas - has enough natural gas to supply 4 million homes for 20 to 25 years.
An energy advocacy group has said that gas production on the plateau could bring revenue to Colorado of up to $6 billion over 30 years. Critics, including environmentalists and a mineral royalty accountant, said the value could be 80 percent less.
Sen. Salazar will now be working toward a one-year drilling moratorium, spokesman Cody Wertz said.
Udall said he plans to work with both Salazars.
"You can be assured I'm not going to stop until we protect the Roan," Udall said.