Concerns Raised Over Oil And Gas Development Near 2 National Parks

<p>Ed Andrieski/AP</p>
<p>The sun sets behind an oil pump jack near Fredrick, Colo., in 2012.</p>

Two of Colorado's national parks have raised concerns about potential oil and gas development near their boundaries as the Bureau of Land Management considers opening land up for drilling next year.

One of those leases is 4 miles from Dinosaur National Monument in northwest Colorado. The other is about 6 miles from the western edge of Rocky Mountain National Park.

Park service officials are concerned about air quality, as well as noise and light pollution from drilling rigs. Rocky Mountain National Park has already seen nitrogen air pollution that can impact high elevation lakes.

Overall, the BLM could open more than 100,000 Colorado acres for oil and gas lease sales next May. It’s accepting public comment on the plan through Dec. 12.

The news comes on the heels of two other recent oil and gas headlines.

Last week, the federal government canceled 25 oil and gas leases along the Thompson Divide on Colorado’s Western Slope. The leases were issued to drilling companies in the White River National Forest beginning in the 1990s. But conservation groups were concerned over the impact drilling might have in an environmentally sensitive region that's home to various outdoor recreational activities.

This week, residents of a west Greeley neighborhood are taking the state to court, arguing it's ignoring new rules that were supposed to improve communication between oil and gas companies and communities. Residents near the proposed Triple Creek project want to stop construction of 22 wells and oil tanks nearby.