By Helen Hankins
Bureau of Land
Colorado State Director
Many Coloradoans know how important energy development is for our state. From job creation to school funding — we see it daily.
What many don't understand is the process the Bureau of Land Management undergoes to ensure environmental protections for important natural resources are met while also allowing leasing and development for oil and natural gas to occur.
The BLM initiated a new process for nominated leases to be evaluated through the National Environmental Policy Act via an environmental assessment. The BLM uses NEPA to predict potential impacts from actions taken on public lands.
The BLM has always reviewed each parcel very carefully and this action does not change that review — it simply adds the opportunity for public involvement.
The public now has three opportunities to provide input on oil and gas leases. The first opportunity asks for public input before the BLM prepares the National Environmental Policy Act documentation. The second follows when the NEPA documentation is posted for public review. Finally, the third public input period follows the completion and official signature of the NEPA documents.
Just because an area is nominated does not mean it will be offered for sale or it is a free pass for development.
Once a lease is obtained, there are several steps that need to happen before development can occur. A lease holder must submit an application for a permit to drill. That application initiates another environmental review that is open to the public to evaluate the proposed drilling plan. A lease holder is given 10 years to develop their lease.
More information about our leasing process and upcoming lease sales can be found online at www.blm.gov/co.
Last year, the Bureau of Land Management boosted Colorado's economy by $6.1 billion due to energy development. About $4.8 billion of that is from oil and gas development through royalties, rental payments on leases, jobs, industry-tied business, etc.
Given the beauty and recreational opportunities on public land, we are faced with hard decisions managing energy development. Our job is to ensure we maintain these beautiful areas for generations to come while allowing development to meet our nation's energy needs.
I think we can accomplish both.blog comments powered by Disqus