On August 27, Grand Junction's KJCT News 8 reported that U.S. Rep. Mark Udall (D-CO) "is urging" Colorado U.S. senators Ken Salazar (D) and Wayne Allard (R) to support a measure "that would stop rigs from drilling on federal lands stop the Roan Plateau." But the broadcast omitted mention that Allard reportedly has stated his opposition to the provision, instead backing plans for further drilling on the land.
Grand Junction ABC affiliate KJCT reported on August 27 that "Colorado Congressman Mark Udall [D] is urging U.S. senators Ken Salazar [D-CO] and Wayne Allard [R-CO] to keep a provision in the energy bill that would stop rigs from drilling on federal lands atop the Roan Plateau." But the News 8 This Morning broadcast failed to mention that Allard reportedly opposes the measure, which passed the House of Representatives with bipartisan support, and instead supports the existing Bureau of Land Management (BLM) plan to proceed with the issuance of drilling leases for lands atop the plateau.
As the Associated Press reported on June 12, "After seven years of study, hearings and comment from state agencies, the Colorado office of the Bureau of Land Management finalized a plan last week that authorizes up to 1,570 new natural gas wells on and around the Roan Plateau over 20 years." On August 3, however, the U.S. Department of the Interior granted state officials another 120 days to review the plan because of their concerns over the impact of drilling in the area.
In an August 4 press release indicating his support for the provision in the House energy bill, Udall stated, "It is important to note that this is not a prohibition on development, but a requirement that it be done in the least disturbing manner possible, and lands below the top of the Roan Plateau or any non-federal lands are not affected."
In contrast to KJCT's report read by anchor Josh Egbert, The Daily Sentinel of Grand Junction reported Allard's opposition to Udall's provision, which fellow U.S. Rep. John Salazar (D-CO) co-sponsored. As an August 19 Daily Sentinel article reported:
Allard said Saturday that he supports the BLM plan, which allows restricted drilling on top of the plateau.
But the senator said he was disappointed about the "top-down" decision of a provision that would restrict drilling on the Roan.
Colorado Reps. Mark Udall and John Salazar, both Democrats, inserted language into a massive energy bill for "no surface occupancy" on public lands atop the plateau. The bill passed the House by bipartisan vote.
If the bill passes the conference committee without alterations, energy companies will be forced to drill indirectly from private land in order to access the Roan's minerals.
"This action by the House wipes out years of effort by locals who support energy exploration and completely ignores the history of the area," Allard said. "The BLM has been engaged (in the plan) for past seven years. I've been supportive of that all along. I think it'd be harmful to the process if all of a sudden I took a different position from where they're going."
From the August 27 broadcast of KJCT's News 8 This Morning:
EGBERT: Colorado Congressman Mark Udall is urging U.S. senators Ken Salazar and Wayne Allard to keep a provision in the energy bill that would stop rigs from drilling on federal lands atop the Roan Plateau. A meeting was held in Glenwood Springs this weekend to talk about the drilling, among other major issues that affect wildlife here on the Western Slope. Last month, Udall joined forces with Western Slope's John Salazar in adding the language. Now it is up to the U.S. House and Senate conference committee to make that final decision. Any decisions made will affect the future of the Roan Plateau and western Colorado. Congress is expected to pass the final version of the energy bill in the next two months. It will be sent to the president for a signature.