Energy Leases In Colorado’s Thompson Divide Canceled

Remote terrain in one of the country’s most heavily recreated National Forest areas will not see more oil and gas development. The Bureau of Land Management finalized its decision Friday for the Thompson Divide region of the White River National Forest near Carbondale.

The BLM canceled 25 federal leases. Another 40 leases close to existing oil and gas infrastructure will be allowed to continue operations.

Energy firms had been seeking a new government review of the forest leases. That push came after a new study estimated a much greater abundance of natural gas in western Colorado than was previously believed.

Two years ago, the federal government made more than 90 percent of the 2.2-million-acre White River National Forest off-limits to energy exploration.

Environmental groups praised the decision, although some said protections could have gone further. The Western Slope Colorado Oil and Gas Association has harshly criticized the move.