Revenue part of Roan Plateau review? | AspenTimes.com

Revenue part of Roan Plateau review?

The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. ” Gov. Bill Ritter’s administration is studying the economic impact of allowing drilling on the Roan Plateau but officials aren’t saying whether that includes looking at the royalties the state could get from energy development.

After taking office in January, Ritter asked for more time to study a plan to open some of the 73,602 acres of federal land on and around the plateau to gas drilling. U.S. Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne granted the state a 120-day review period in August.

Ritter spokesman Evan Dreyer said he couldn’t comment in detail about what studies the governor has requested as part of the review, which is set to end next month.

“We are looking at some economic issues as part of our 120-day review of the Roan management plan,” he said.

Mike King, deputy director of the Department of Natural Resources, said the agency is looking at all aspects of the lease plan but he also wouldn’t say if revenue is being studied.

“I think it’s fair to say we’re evaluating all aspects of development of the Roan. To say we’re focusing on anything in particular is premature at this point,” King said.

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Questions about a possible revenue study arose when state Rep. Al White, R-Hayden, wrote a letter Nov. 1 to department director Harris Sherman thanking the agency for looking at possible revenues from developing the Roan. He advised Sherman to avoid “artificially reducing the forecast of Colorado’s benefit” from Roan development for political reasons.

The possible windfall for Colorado is disputed.

Drilling supporters say the state could get $1 billion from leases and royalties shared with the federal government. However, an analysis done by a petroleum accountant for environmental groups and Democratic lawmakers concluded that the state’s share of lease revenue over 20 years would be $8.1 million at most.

Dreyer said all the studies performed as part of the review will be made public when the review period ends.

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