Garfield County Commissioners endorse possible Roan Plateau deal | AspenTimes.com

Garfield County Commissioners endorse possible Roan Plateau deal

John Stroud
Glenwood Springs Post Independent

Garfield County Commissioner Mike Samson has agreed to go along with his fellow commissioners in signing a resolution of support for a possible settlement in the dispute over oil and gas leases on the Roan Plateau as long as future leasing in the area is not blocked.

"The cancellation of the leases is only for some of Bill Barrett's leases on top of the Roan Plateau … and is not a permanent condition," Samson said during a special Board of County Commissioners meeting Thursday in Parachute, referring to his understanding of a tentative deal that could settle a six-year legal impasse over drilling on the Roan.

The deal — if ultimately approved by Bill Barrett Corp., the Bureau of Land Management and environmental groups that sued over the BLM's 2008 decision to lease about 55,000 acres on and around the Roan Plateau for oil and gas development — would result in some of Barrett's leases being canceled in the more pristine areas on top of the Roan.

In exchange, the BLM would include in its ongoing environmental review an alternative to allow other leases held by Barrett and three other companies to be developed.

It's a potential solution that industry officials, including representatives from two of the affected lease holders — Ursa Operating Co. and WPX Energy — advised county commissioners earlier this week offers the best chance for drilling to proceed on leases located at the base of the Roan.

Commissioners Tom Jankovsky and John Martin were prepared to sign a resolution endorsing the tentative settlement as long as the county and other local jurisdictions are not made to return mineral-lease payments on the canceled leases.

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However, Samson had strong reservations about endorsing any settlement that would result in canceled leases, both now and especially in the future.