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The Roan Plateau goes to court

October 25, 2010 |  4:28 pm


Negotiations have fizzled between an energy company that wants to drill on a treasured plateau in western Colorado and the environmental groups that sued to stop it.

That means a federal judge will decide whether to halt energy exploration on the wildlife-rich Roan Plateau. When the Bureau of Land Management sold parcels there amid furious complaints from environmental groups in summer 2008, it netted $118 million -- the biggest energy sale in the lower 48 in BLM history.

The negotiations were between environmental groups and Bill Barrett Corp., which bought some of the leases after the initial litigation was filed. Federal Magistrate Judge Kristen Mix had ordered the negotiations before the case proceeded, but late last week the two sides reported they were deadlocked.

Mix will now consider the plaintiff's request to overturn the sale and bar exploration on the plateau.

-- Nicholas Riccardi

Photo: The Roan Plateau looms over Rifle, Colo. Credit: David Zalubowski / Associated Press