Feds defend BLM’s Roan Plateau drilling plan

By Phillip YatesGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado — The Bureau of Land Management’s drilling plan for the Roan Plateau Planning Area does not violate federal environmental law, U.S. Department of Justice attorneys argued in court documents filed earlier this week.

The government, in response to a lawsuit filed by a coalition of 10 environmental groups in July, denied allegations that the BLM’s plan for natural gas development on the Roan Plateau violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), court documents show.

The groups’ lawsuit argues that the BLM’s plan should be invalidated and that the issuance of any leases should be blocked because it “relies on the (agency’s) illegal plan and its inadequate environmental analysis.”

The environmental groups’ lawsuit argues the agency did not analyze the long-term environmental impacts of its actions nor did it consider a reasonable range of alternative approaches.

They argue that the BLM’s environmental impact statement for drilling “ignores the vast majority of the oil and gas development that eventually will result from the (BLM’s) leasing decision” and also ignores the possible ozone pollution that may result from natural gas development in the area.

The government, in a response filed Monday, denied those allegations.

The coalition of environmentalists — which include the Wilderness Society, Colorado Trout Unlimited, Colorado Mountain Club and the Wilderness Workshop — filed its lawsuit in July about a month before the BLM auctioned off 31 parcels that encompassed about 54,600 acres of the Roan Plateau Planning Area.