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Bull Mountain drilling plan gets a green light

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The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Uncompahgre Field Office released the Record of Decision (ROD) for the Bull Mountain Unit Master Development Plan, providing direction for the development of approximately 19,670 acres of federal and private mineral estate near the town of Paonia.

The plan provides a framework for developing up to 146 natural gas wells, four water disposal wells and construction of associated access roads and pipelines for leases operated by SG Interests I, Ltd (SGI). The decision also approves one Federal application for permit to drill. The plan is a part of the President's America First Energy Plan, which includes environmentally-responsible development of oil and gas, coal, strategic minerals, and renewable energy sources such as wind, geothermal and solar.

"We developed the plan through close coordination with stakeholders and our cooperating agencies," said Dana Wilson, BLM Colorado acting Southwest District manager. "It represents the best combination of management decisions to allow SGI to exercise its lease rights while limiting the impacts to natural resources."

A Master Development Plan allows for orderly development of oil and gas resources, resulting in fewer wells drilled and less surface impacts. The Bull Mountain Master Development Plan includes conditions of approval, best management practices for responsible development and measures to protect air and water resources. Additionally, the plan includes key wildlife provisions intended to reduce impacts to winter elk habitat and other big game species. Throughout the planning process, seven cooperating agencies reviewed and provided comments to develop these protective measures. In addition to cooperating agency comments, the BLM reviewed all public comments and provided responses in the ROD.

Last week's decision to approve one application for permit to drill does not guarantee approval of additional wells. Any future federal applications must go through site-specific environmental review.

During the drilling phase, the Bull Mountain project could generate up to $100 million in employment income and 470 jobs annually. The production phase could generate up to $14 million in employment income, and up to 135 jobs annually.

The State of Colorado receives 49 percent of royalties from oil and gas development on federal minerals. In fiscal year 2016, oil and gas development directly contributed $796 million to the economy and produced $98 million in federal revenues. Statewide, more than 22,900 jobs are tied to mineral and energy development on public lands.

For more information about the Bull Mountain Master Development Plan or to review the ROD and associated documents, please visit the BLM website at https://eplanning.blm.gov/epl-front-office/eplanning/legacyProjectSite.do?methodName=renderLegacyProjectSite&projectId=66641.

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