Oil and Gas

The Rocky Mountain states are rich in both natural beauty and resources, and for decades a conflict has been escalating between those interested in protecting the area's wildlands and those wishing to extract its instrumental value.

There is increased pressure from the federal government, particularly through the BLM, to lease more and more of the Rocky Mountains to oil and gas industries, and to construct thousands of miles of more pipelines and energy corridors. The Upper Green River Valley, near Jackson, Wyoming, and the Roan Plateau, outside of Rifle, Colorado, are two of the poster child areas that show how the legacy of the Bush Administration’s “lease and drill everything” policy is targeting some of our most fragile places to oil and gas development. The environmental threats of oil and natural gas development are escalated by the use of hydraulic fracturing.

EcoFlight collaborates with a large number of organizations and concerned citizens in opposition to the rampant development and increased destruction of our last wild lands and many natural treasures, particularly that which is caused by extractive industries.

Oil and Gas by state
New Mexico
North Dakota
FLIGHTS: Oil and Gas
A Description of Fracking (Hydraulic Fracturing)
Description: Hydraulic fracturing, also known as “fracking,” is the means by which drilling companies unlock natural gas reserves that would be otherwise inaccessible. Due to the threats it poses to water and air quality, fracking is one of the most controversial aspects of oil and gas development... read more
Colorado - Battlement Mesa
State: Colorado
Region: Western Slope
Description: In May 2009, Antero Resources announced a proposed Comprehensive Development Plan that would include constructing ten well pads and drilling over 200 natural gas wells within the residential area of Battlement Mesa. Some pads could be as close as 400 feet from homes and recreation areas... read more
Colorado - Coal Creek Reclamation
State: Colorado
Region: Crystal River Watershed
Description: Coal Creek, which flows into the Crystal near Redstone, has been impacted by 50 years of coal mining operations. This has resulted in extremely unstable, steep slopes, exposed mining tailings, causing erosion, pollution, sedimentation and stream health issues...read more
Colorado - Flooding in Weld County
State: Colorado
Region: Weld County
Description: Extensive flooding in Weld County, CO has damaged oil and gas infrastructure along the South Platte River's floodplain.
Colorado - Mesa Verde National Park
State: Colorado, New Mexico
Description: Mesa Verde National Park features thousands of archeological ruins that speak to the lives of the Ancestral Puebloan people, who built cliff dwellings there over 800 years ago. In addition to invasive species and other threats, air quality in the park is being continually degraded by two adjacent coal-fired power plants.
Colorado - North Fork Valley
State: Colorado
Region: Western slope
Description: The threat of oil and gas in the North Fork Valley has gone back and forth between victory and defeat for conservationists and farmers trying to keep drilling out of the region. In early 2012, 22 parcels were nominated for an oil and gas lease sale, the parcels were removed due to public concerns, but later added back in. Citizens rallied again to finally have the leases deferred again in early 2013.... read more
Colorado - North Park
State: Colorado
Region: North Park
Description: Sometimes called the Serengeti of Colorado, North Park is a high basin in the Rocky Mountains in north central Colorado. Plans to drill the Niobrara Formation in North Park are drawing concerns from local sportsmen, anglers and conservation groups about the area's delicate resources... read more
Colorado - Oil and Gas Pipelines
State: Colorado
Region: Statewide
Description: A complex pipeline system transports natural gas and other hazardous liquids across thousands of miles over pristine lands and through wildlife habitat, connecting well pads, compressor stations and processing plants for the oil and gas industry in Colorado. Nationwide, the Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration regulates only a small percentage of these gathering lines.
Colorado - Parachute Creek Gas Plant Spill
State: Colorado
Region: Garfield County
Description: In January, 2013 crews discoverd a leak at a gas plant on Parachute Creek. It wasn't until March that they reported the contaminated soil – a plume of liquid hydrocarbons surging up from the ground just 50 feet from Parachute Creek. Officials estimate the plume to be 200 feet long, 170 feet wide and 14 feet deep. Benzene has been discovered in ground water and in the creek itself.
Colorado - Pawnee National Grassland
State: Colorado
Region: East of Fort Collins and Greeley Colorado
Description: The nearly 200,000-acre Pawnee National Grassland, east of Fort Collins in Colorado, is a mixed-grass prairie that supports an incredible diversity of life. Continue reading...
Colorado - Piceance Basin Oil and Gas
State: California
Description: How Garfield County came to have more drilling rigs than Saudi Arabia...In 2008, at the peak of the drilling frenzy, more than 2,000 gas wells were drilled in the Piceance Basin. In 2010, Garfield, Mesa and Rio Blanco counties produced 750 billion cubic feet of gas – 3 percent of the U.S. total, with an estimated value that year of $3 billion...read more
Colorado - Rifle - Gas Flare
State: Colorado
Description: Flaring is a technique used by the oil and gas industry to burn off unused natural gas. Though better than simply venting the gas into the air, flaring  releases huge amounts of greenhouse gasses and as many as 250 hazardous air pollutants, including carcinogens such as naphthalene and benzene... read more
Colorado - Roan Plateau
State: Colorado
Region: Western Slope
Description: In 2012, the Federal District Court ruled that the BLM failed to sufficiently address cumulative effects of drilling on air quality and failed to consider potential ozone impacts of oil and gas development on the Roan Plateau, an island of biological diversity in the sea of development in Colorado... read more
Colorado - South Park
State: Colorado
Region: South Park
Description: South Park is a high-elevation basin ringed by mountains in central Colorado and is managed by the BLM’s Royal Gorge field office. The 1,000 square-mile basin contains over 200 miles of streams and riparian habitat and the headwaters of the South Platte River.
Colorado - Thompson Divide
State: Colorado
Region: Western Slope
Description: In December 2014, the Forest Service released a final oil and gas leasing plan that closed much of the Thompson Divide to future leasing, and strengthened protections for roadless areas on the White River National Forest. The plan will dictate how oil and gas is developed on the forest for the next 20 years. ... read more
Colorado - Vermillion Basin
State: Colorado
Region: Western Slope
Description: EcoFlight has been flying Colorado’s spectacular Vermillion Basin for many years to protect it from damaging oil and gas leasing. In June 2010, the BLM’s Little Snake Field Office announced that the Vermillion Basin will be closed from all future oil and gas leasing and drilling... read more
Colorado - Weld County
State: Colorado
Region: Front Range
Description: Weld County leads the state in oil and gas production with almost 20,000 active oil and gas wells. Weld County, the largest county in Colorado, shares a geological formation called Niobrara Shale with Wyoming, Kansas and Nebraska.
Montana - Blackfeet Indian Reservation - Oil and Gas
State: Montana
Region: Glacier
Description: For the Blackfeet, water is the source of their teachings, philosophy, and values, and members are worried that if natural gas development goes unchecked, their water will be at risk. read more...
Montana - Rocky Mountain Front
State: Montana
Description: Congress has enacted legislation that prevents all future leasing of federal oil and gas minerals on the Rocky Mountain Front. An icon of wildlands, wildlife, beauty, and diversity in northwest Montana, the Rocky Mountain Front offers connectivity between summer and winter habitats and intact ecosystems... read more
New Mexico - Four Corners - Oil and Gas
State: New Mexico
Region: San Juan Basin, Farmington and Aztec
Description: The San Juan Basin currently has more than 20,000 producing natural gas wells with a prediction of up to 5,000 more in the upcoming years. Major concerns include the impacts from oil and gas development near homes and farms, as well as on public lands managed by BLM and the Forest Service.... read more
New Mexico - Otero Mesa
State: New Mexico
Region: southern New Mexico
Description: Energy development on this vast Chihuahuan Desert grassland -- inhabited by New Mexico's most robust pronghorn herd, black-tailed prairie dogs and some 250 songbird species -- has been hotly disputed since 1997, when an exploratory well drilled by the Harvey E. Yates Company hit gas... read more
North Dakota - Killdeer Mountains
State: North Dakota
Region: Western North Dakota
Description: The Killdeer mountains of North Dakota are located a short distance northwest of the town of Killdeer.  This area is part of the badlands and was the site of the infamous Battle of Killdeer Mountain.  EcoFlight flew members of the Killdeer Mountain Alliance over the scenic area’s of these mountains and the nearby oil and gas development, which is threatening cultural, historical and recreational uses of the region. Continue reading...
North Dakota - Theodore Roosevelt National Park
State: North Dakota
Region: Western North Dakota
Description: Theodore Roosevelt National Park includes three geographically separate units located in western North Dakota on the badlands.  The Little Missouri River runs through all three units of the park, with a combined total of 110 square miles.  Continue reading...
North Dakota - Williston - Bakken Oil
State: North Dakota
Description: The Bakken formation, located in western North Dakota, northeast Montana and part of Canada, is considered to be one of the United States largest oil and gas basins. Since 2008, more than 4,000 new wells have been drilled in the formation.
Pennsylvania - State Forests
State: Pennsylvania
Region: North Central Pensylvania
Description: In January 2015, Governor Wolf signed an executive order placing a moratorium on new leasing for oil and gas drilling in our state parks and forests. This action reinstates a 2010 moratorium on new leases of state lands that was established after agency review determined that no additional state forest acreage was suitable for natural gas development without compromising its natural character.
Utah - Desolation Canyon
State: Utah
Region: Uinta Basin
Description: The Desolation Canyon area is one of the largest roadless areas in the U.S. It's also sitting on top of a large oil formation, making it a target for drilling. The region has had a history of attempts to balance uses of the land. In 2012, the Obama Admnistration approved a project to allow nearly 1,300 new wells... read more
Utah - Nine Mile Canyon
Region: Tavaputs Plateau
Description: The Tavaputs Plateau and the Book Cliffs in Utah mark a gateway into one of the most remote areas of the Lower 48 states, through which the Green River runs. East of the Green is Nine Mile Canyon, promoted as "the world's longest art gallery" and under threat from the oil and gas industry... read more
Utah - PR Springs Tar Sands
State: Utah
Region: PR Springs, Utah
Description: The state of Utah has given Canadian based company, U.S. Oil Sands, the green light to proceed with the first tar sands development in the USA, without first obtaining pollution permits or requiring groundwater monitoring. A considerable amount of earthmoving has begun on state land at the 213-acre PR Springs site.
Utah - San Rafael Swell
Region: Central Utah
Description: The San Rafael Swell, with its miles of twisting sandstone spires, towering mesas and hoodoos, has long been a draw for hiking and canyoneering, and parts of the area have been considered for protection under various designations such as national park, national monument, national conservation area, and wilderness.
Wyoming - Absaroka Beartooth Front
State: Wyoming
Description: The Greater Yellowstone Coalition is initiating a proactive landscape-scale conservation campaign to protect the Absaroka-Beartooth Front, which constitutes the northeasetrn boundary of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and is critical habitat for all the iconic species in the Ecosystem... read more
Wyoming - Fortification Creek
State: Wyoming
Region: Sheridan
Description: Coalbed methane development in the Fortification Creek area in the Powder River Basin has been a challenge to environmental groups. The BLM released a proposed final management plan in 2011 for the area, which spans more than 100,000 acres in three counties and is home to an elk herd.... read more
Wyoming - Pavillion - Fracking
State: Wyoming
Description: Reports of contaminated groundwater have increased in places like the tiny town of Pavillion, where gas wells outnumber residents. Here, residents are warned not to drink or cook with their water and are told to “ventilate” because of unsafe levels of natural gas in their drinking wells... read more
Wyoming - Pinedale Anticline and Jonah
State: Wyoming
Region: Upper Green River Valley
Description: The extraordinary Upper Green River Valley in western Wyoming is defined by clear air, clean water, and abundant wildlife. There is substantial energy development on BLM lands here, where gas reserves have proved to be some of the most lucrative in the nation... read more
Wyoming - Powder River Basin
State: Wyoming
Description: Wyoming's Powder River Basin is experiencing the largest mineral boom in Wyoming history. Coalbed methane (CBM) gas development in the Powder River Basin has been characterized by industry as the "hottest natural gas play" in North America, making CBM development the greatest environmental and cultural threat Wyoming has faced in decades.... read more
Wyoming - Red Desert
State: Wyoming
Description: The Red Desert is one of the few remaining great high elevation deserts left in the United States, and is considered by many the last truly wild place in the west. Within its 6 million acres are towers of sandstone, colorful badlands, slot canyons, and the largest chain of shifting sand dunes in North America. Continue reading...
Wyoming - Wyoming Range
State: Wyoming
Region: Bridger-Teton National Forest
Description: After a three-month fundraising effort ending  on December 31, 2012, The Trust for Public Land, Wyoming Outdoor Council, American Rivers, Citizens for the Wyoming Range, The Wilderness Society, and over 1,000  individuals and organizations worked to raise the $8.75 million to complete a deal with a Texas energy company to buy out all oil and gas leases on 58,000 acres of land in the Hoback. The deal effectively protects another piece of the greater landscape that is the Wyoming Range..... read more