White River field office extends Piceance Basin public comment period

Management plan outlines draft energy development strategy on 1.7 million acres

The Bureau of Land Management has extended by 45 days the public comment period deadline for its draft White River Field Office Oil and Gas Resource Management Plan.

The draft plan, unveiled in August, outlines a collection of management alternatives in anticipation of increased oil and natural gas development on 1.7 million acres managed by the White River field office in Piceance Basin.

Much of the proposed development would take place in Rio Blanco County and could add 4,600 to 21,200 new wells in the Piceance Basin.

The Piceance Basin touches Rio Blanco County, southern Moffat County and a portion of northern Garfield County.

The new public comment period deadline is Jan. 28, 2013.

“Public involvement is a key part of this process, and we have received a number of requests for additional time to review this draft,” said Kent Walter, White River field office field manager, in a news release. “This additional 45 days will extend the amount of time the draft will be available for public review and comment to 160 days.”

In addition to extending the public comment period the White River field office is hosting from 5 to 7 p.m. on Dec. 3 an open house to specifically discuss wildlife protection measures proposed in the draft.

The White River field office is located at 220 E. Market St. in Meeker.

“We have proposed a number of incentive-based protections to minimize impacts from oil and gas development to wildlife,” Walter said in the release. “We know there is a lot of interest in these proposals, and we want to give people a chance to learn more about what is specifically being considered as they develop their written comments.”

The majority of the acreage within the White River field office is already leased for oil and natural gas development, the release states.

The draft plan projects as much as 878 million cubic feet of natural gas could be produced annually, bringing as many as 8,000 new jobs to the region.

Joe Moylan can be reached at 875-1794 or jmoylan@craigdailypress.com

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