Interior to begin Roan cleanup in June
February 5, 2008
DENVER – Federal officials plan to begin cleaning up an old oil shale research site at the Roan Plateau this summer, which means Colorado will soon start getting its share of revenue from energy development, Colorado senators said Tuesday.Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne plans to sign a contract in June to begin work at the Anvil Points site, Republican Wayne Allard said.”This announcement signals the start of Colorado benefiting from the responsible development of our resources on the Western Slope,” he said.Democrat Ken Salazar called it “one positive step of many that must still occur.”Steve Wymer, Allard’s spokesman, said federal legislation is still needed to make sure Colorado gets its share of excess mineral royalties in a fund set up to pay for the cleanup.Allard and Salazar disagree on how to tap the leftover money. Allard has criticized Salazar for not supporting a bill he introduced last year to split the revenue between the federal and state governments.”This money will be absorbed back in to the treasury,” Wymer said.Kempthorne told Allard Tuesday that the Interior Department is looking at diverting $24 million from the fund for its budget, Wymer said.Salazar called the plan “a theft by the federal government from the state of Colorado.””I will not stand by and allow the federal government to pilfer from a fund intended for Coloradans,” he said.Allard and Salazar also differ on energy development on the Roan Plateau. Allard supports a Bureau of Land Management plan to open some federal land to natural gas production. Salazar has tried to limit development in the area because of concerns about impacts on wildlife, the environment and businesses that rely on hunting and recreation.Salazar and his brother, Democratic Rep. John Salazar, plan to introduce their own bill to use the excess funds for land and water conservation in western Colorado and to offset impacts from energy development in the area. Rep. Mark Udall, D-Colo., supports the proposal.Ken Salazar has said he doesn’t want to see the money from the fund simply go into the state general fund.Federal officials have said the cleanup fund has about $86.5 million. Wymer said about $1.5 million flows into the fund monthly.The fund was established in 1997 when the Department of Energy transferred the public land on the Roan Plateau to the Interior Department.The revenue comes from oil and gas production on federal leases before Interior assumed management of the plateau, about 180 miles west of Denver. Revenue from lease payments and federal mineral royalties normally split between the state and federal government goes into a fund for cleanup.The Bureau of Land Management, which oversees the federal land on the Roan, has said there’s more than enough money to complete the cleanup and reimburse the Energy Department for work it did, but federal legislation is needed to distribute the excess money.