CU - INVST Student Program on Oil and Gas in Thompson Divide

Jul 23, 2012

EcoFlight met with staff from Wilderness Workshop and the Thompson Divide Coalition to discuss oil and gas development in Western Colorado with students from University of Colorado’s INVST Community Studiesstudent program.

Students flew over the Thompson Divide area to see for themselves where efforts are being made to protect the Thompson and Divide Creek watersheds from potential oil and gas drilling. The Thompson Divide offers the local ranching community a way of life, recreation opportunities to support the local tourism industry, provides clean air and water, and is home to important wildlife habitat and migration corridors.

Much of the land west of the Crystal River and north of McClure Pass has already been leased to natural gas drilling, with 81 leases covering approximately 105,000 acres. A Houston-based oil and gas company, SG Interests, is preparing to apply for permits to drill wells on thousands of acres in the Thompson Divide.

Then we flew out toward the Roan Plateau to see where energy development is taking place. Already over half of the Roan Plateau Planning Area is either owned outright or leased by oil and gas companies, and intensive oil and gas development is currently taking place at the base and on the western one-third of the top of the plateau. On June 23rd, 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. It ordered them to set aside plans for drilling on the Roan, and to take another look at the potential impacts.

On August 2nd, Senator Bennet released a draft bill to protect the Thompson Divide through permanent withdrawal of oil and gas leases in the area. Comment on the draft legislation here.


Thanks to Chris Council of Aspen Daily News for the photos!