Energy industry wants in on Roan discussion |

Energy industry wants in on Roan discussion

garfield county correspondent

GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” An energy industry group is objecting to being closed out of a Glenwood Springs meeting Thursday to consider alternatives to a proposed management plan for the Roan Plateau.

The Independent Petroleum Association of Mountain States has written a letter to U.S. Rep. John Salazar, D-Manassa, voicing disappointment over not being invited to the meeting.

Salazar and Rep. Mark Udall, D-Eldorado Springs, have invited local elected officials, the Colorado Division of Wildlife and environmental and wildlife groups to the meeting. The congressmen may explore legislative and other alternatives to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s proposed plan, which among other things would allow drilling on top of the plateau.

Environmentalists and area communities had called for keeping drilling off the plateau top. The BLM is reviewing protests of the plan and hopes to issue a final decision by summer.

Thursday’s meeting is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. at the Glenwood Springs Community Center. The public reportedly may attend but won’t be invited to comment.

IPAMS Executive Director Marc Smith wrote to Salazar that the group would like to participate in the meeting.

“After all, if you are thinking about creating a new proposal for energy development, it might not be a bad idea to invite someone with expertise in the field who understands what’s feasible and technically possible,” he wrote.

He added, “We’ve been inundated with calls from some of the thousands of energy producers, suppliers, contractors, and service companies in your district who are worried that your actions are a first step towards taking away the high-paying jobs that have allowed them to own homes, educate their children, and in general enjoy a standard of living that they otherwise could not afford.”

He said restricting energy development also would drive up energy costs for consumers.

The IPAMS made its letter public late Tuesday afternoon, and Salazar’s office could not be reached for comment.

Glenwood Springs resident Steve Smith, assistant regional director of the Wilderness Society, said he and others were invited to the meeting so the congressmen could “learn more about alternative approaches that have an emphasis on the natural features of the Roan Plateau.”

He said he assumes that Salazar “will be fair and open to a whole range of points of view ” maybe just on different occasions.”

Sloan Shoemaker, executive director of the Carbondale-based Wilderness Workshop, was unsympathetic toward the energy industry. When President Bush took office, he created a task force headed by Vice President Dick Cheney that Shoemaker said essentially resulted in the energy industry developing the nation’s energy policy.

“Not to say that two wrongs make a right, but Congressman Salazar, it’s his right to discuss the issue with the constituents of his choice,” Shoemaker said.

Smith, of the IPAMS, referred to the Bush administration controversy in his letter Tuesday, saying that Udall had said in regard to the energy task force, “You shouldn’t rig the process to give special treatment to special interests.”

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