One of Colorado’s richest
environmental and wildlife gems, the Roan Plateau, has a new lease on life
thanks to a federal court ruling Friday setting aside a BLM plan that
would have allowed oil and gas companies to drill thousands of wells on 55,000
acres of the Roan.
The ruling, by U.S.
District Judge Marcia S. Krieger in Denver, sets aside a resource management
plan approved in 2007 during the Bush administration that would have sacrificed
for oil and gas development some of North America’s rarest plants, genetically
pure cutthroat trout, tens of thousands of acres of wilderness-quality land,
and crucial habitat for prize herds of elk and deer. BLM had acknowledged that
drilling the Roan would cause permanent and irreversible losses to native trout
populations and rare plant species, and also that wilderness-quality lands and
opportunities for backcountry recreation would be permanently destroyed.
Judge Krieger ruled that
BLM’s plan should be set aside because the agency failed to consider a more
balanced alternative that would have better protected the Roan’s wildlife,
plants and pristine lands. In addition, the Court ruled, BLM failed to take a
hard look at the air pollution that would result from drilling the Roan.
“The Roan Plateau is one
of Colorado’s richest environmental and wildlife gems,” said Earthjustice
attorney Michael Freeman. “The Court’s ruling means that the Roan will get a
second look and hopefully preserved.”