BLM grants Thompson Divide suspension requests

Staff report
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

SILT, Colo. – The Bureau of Land Management on Tuesday approved oil and gas lease suspension requests from SG Interests and Ursa Resources Group for their leases in the Thompson Divide area west of Carbondale.

The move keeps the leases alive, but will allow time for a full-blown environmental review of the leases – a process that accommodates public input.

The suspension prevents development activity on the leases, pauses the 10-year deadline the energy companies have to develop the leases and allows for the additional environmental analysis, according to the BLM. Twenty-three undeveloped leases are scheduled to expire this year, some as early as May, prompting the suspension requests from SG Interests and Ursa.

“The lease suspensions allow the BLM additional time to complete environmental analyses on the companies’ leases and their development proposals,” said Steve Bennett, BLM Colorado River Valley field manager, in a prepared statement. “These suspensions will also provide the community and the leaseholders an opportunity to continue their dialogue on the future of the leases in the Thompson Divide area. Ultimately, the leases could be voided, reaffirmed or modified as an outcome of the additional environmental analysis.”

In granting the suspension requests, the BLM acknowledged the “need to remedy a defect” when the leases were issued – the lack of an environmental analysis under the National Environmental Policy Act. The leased tracts in Thompson Divide were approved for sale by the U.S. Forest Service and sold by the BLM in 2003 and 2004.

SG Interests holds 18 leases in the area and Ursa holds seven.

The suspensions are effective Feb. 1 – the date the companies submitted their suspension requests to the BLM, and expire on April 1, 2014.

For more on Tuesday’s announcement, see Wednesday’s Aspen Times.


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