Gov. Bill Ritter announced today that his administration and the U.S.
Department of the Interior are engaged in productive discussions about
the future of the Roan Plateau and will continue the dialogue over the
“We are making steady progress on what I believe is a uniquely
Colorado solution – a solution that strikes an important balance and
will benefit our environment, economy, communities and energy
industry,” Gov. Ritter said. “I’m pleased that Interior is working
with us in reviewing the environmental, economic and technical issues
pertaining to the Roan. I look forward to continuing these discussions
to reach a mutually agreeable means of developing the energy resources
on the Roan while also serving as responsible stewards of Colorado’s
“The Roan Plateau is a very special place, and we have only one chance
to get it right,” Gov. Ritter said. “The state and federal governments
owe it to present and future generations to do everything we can to
accomplish our goals.” Gov. Ritter said he hopes to achieve several
objectives during the ongoing conversations, including:
· Ensuring protection for critical fish and wildlife habitat,
such as by expanding the size of the four wildlife-protection zones,
known as “Areas of Critical Environmental Concern”;
· Exploring the concept of phased or incremental leasing to
increase state revenues, better protect the environment and properly
pace future development;
· Achieving sustainable economic prosperity for local
communities and industry;
· Exploring a possible amendment to the 1997 federal Transfer
Act to ensure that the state receives bonus payments from future
leasing on the Roan; and
· Incorporating state-of-the-art technology to minimize
“During this period of discussions with the Interior Department, we
will continue to actively engage all those with a stake in the future
of the Roan Plateau,” Gov. Ritter said. “This will include local
officials and community leaders, energy industry representatives,
conservationists, sportsmen, state lawmakers and members of Colorado’s
Facts about the Roan Plateau
What is the Roan Plateau?
· A federally and privately owned plateau in northwest Colorado about
180 miles west of Denverwith significant recoverable natural gas
· The federally owned portion of the Roan Plateau Planning Area (RPPA)
is 73,602 acres, including surface acres and subsurface mineral rights.
· The federal acreage includes 34,758 acres on top of the Roan and
38,844 acres on the sides and the base.
· The BLM owns 58 percent of the surface of the RPPA and private
entities, including energy companies and ranchers, own the remaining
· The Roan Plateau rises to more than 9,200 feet and is 4,000 feet
higher than the Colorado Riverat its base.
· The Roan includes scenic areas, varied and rich wildlife habitat,
more than 200 miles of roads and thousands of acres without roads.
This includes 157 miles of unpaved roads on the federal land on top of
· The recoverable resources are estimated at 8.9 trillion cubic feet
(TCF), including 4.2 TCF on the top and 4.7 TCF on the cliffs and
below the rim. That is enough natural gas for Colorado’s 1.5 million
residential customers for 34 years.
What’s happening today on the Roan Plateau?
· There are more than 1,300 producing natural gas wells in the RPPA,
including 10 on private land on the top.
· There are 876 permits to drill new wells, including 161 on the top
and 715 on the bottom.
· On the bottom of the Roan, there are 980 wells on private land and
333 wells on federal land.
What is the federal government’s current plan for leasing on the Roan?
· BLM has estimated that under the current plan up to 1,560
wells on 193 well pads would be developed over the next 20 years,
including 210 wells and 13 drilling pads on the top of the Roan.
· The BLM would lease the available acres all at once.
· The BLM said the management plan will protect 51 percent of
the Roan (top, sides and bottom) and allow for recovery of 90 percent
of the natural gas resources.
· Surface disturbances, including well pads and equipment,
would be limited to no more than 350 acres at a time and wells must be
clustered on multi-well pads at least a half mile apart.
· All drilling would be done in phases with well pads
clustered to limit surface disturbance to 1 percent at any time.
· To access the natural gas resources with a minimum of wells,
directional drilling will be used. Directional drilling is currently
used on over 98% of new wells in the Piceance Basin.
· Drilling would not be allowed on slopes with greater than a
20 percent angle.
Geography of the Roan Plateau
· Four “Areas of Critical Environmental Concern” are home to
wildlife such as genetically pure strains of the Colorado River
cutthroat trout, bald and golden eagles, deer, elk, puma, black bear,
peregrine falcon and sage grouse
· The four areas total 21,032 acres:
§ Anvil Points — 4,955 acres
§ East Fork of Parachute Creek — 6,571 acres
§ Magpie — 4,696 acres
§ Trapper/Northwater — 4,810 acres