Allard, Penry to discuss Roan drilling |

Allard, Penry to discuss Roan drilling

The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. ” Amid a contentious debate over energy development at two western Colorado sites, Sen. Wayne Allard planned a trip to Grand Junction on Saturday to discuss his position.

Allard and state Sen. Josh Penry, both Republicans, will discuss plans for drilling on the Roan Plateau and in the Vermillion Basin, Allard spokeswoman Tara Hendershott said Friday.

Allard has supported U.S. Bureau of Land Management plans to open more federal land for natural gas wells on the Roan, near Rifle, and in the Vermillion Basin in Moffat County.

The House passed an energy bill last month with an amendment sponsored by Colorado Democratic Reps. Mark Udall and John Salazar that would bar drilling on top of the Roan. The House and Senate have to reconcile their different versions of the bill.

The federal government recently granted Gov. Bill Ritter’s request for a 120-day extension to review the BLM’s final management plan for the Roan. The plan projects 193 well pads and up to 1,570 wells over 20 years, including 13 pads and 210 wells on top.

Ritter has said drilling shouldn’t occur in the Vermillion Basin, part of a larger area where BLM has projected up to 3,000 new gas wells over 1.3 million acres could be drilled over the next 20 years.

Environmentalists and some area residents say the scenic badlands should be protected.

The Moffat County commissioners criticized Ritter’s comments on the Vermillion Basin, saying the county could lose $5.7 million in tax revenue if drilling there is banned.