Balanced plan for Roan Plateau
Dear Editor:Recently, the BLM challenged The Wilderness Society’s analysis of how much gas exists underneath Roan Plateau (Aspen Times, Oct. 28). Our methods and data, however, followed government and industry standards. We used the most recent data from scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey, as well as GIS mapping methods previously used by the Department of Energy, the Department of the Interior, and the National Petroleum Council, an industry group. Critics of our methods would do well to re-visit past congressional testimony by industry that was based on methods similar to ours. In other regions where we have completed a similar gas and oil analysis, our estimates were much closer to those of the agency. We were therefore surprised by the dramatic difference in the gas estimates for the Roan Plateau. Even our most optimistic projection of 5.5 trillion cubic feet (tcf) is 65 percent less than the 15.4 tcf estimated by the BLM. The large discrepancy caused us some concerns about the assumptions and data used in the BLM gas projections. Our concerns about optimistic gas projections are particularly relevant in western Colorado, given industry’s faulty oil-shale projections that wreaked economic havoc on Colorado residents two decades ago. A paper published in the Aug. 4 issue of the Oil and Gas Journal echoes our concerns.In that paper, several Ph.D. geologists concluded with respect to tight sands gas in the Rockies “… it is likely that resource volumes are substantially overestimated.” Unless gas projections are accurate and tempered in economic and technological reality, counties and towns cannot properly plan for the future.Given past history and recent concerns raised by professional geologists, we encourage the BLM to continue to work with environmentalists, community leaders and other scientists to reconcile our differences. We believe it is possible to forge a balanced management plan that protects the top of the Roan Plateau, while drilling is allowed where appropriate around the base of the plateau.Pete MortonThe Wilderness SocietyDenver
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