For Immediate Release: June 9, 2004
Contact: Walt Brown  (970) 385-1304
Ann Bond (970) 385-1219
Vaughn Whatley (303)-239-3766

Northern San Juan Basin Coalbed Methane Draft EIS Released for Public Review 

The San Juan Public Lands Center will release the Northern San Juan Basin Coalbed Methane Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for public review and comment on Thursday, June 10, 2004.  A public comment period will take place for the next 90 days. During this time, a local public hearing will be held where interested citizens may offer oral comments, and local open houses will be held to offer information.  A subcommittee of the Bureau of Land Management Southwest Colorado Resource Advisory Council will also   sponsor a concurrent working group process to offer additional avenues for local public involvement. 

The Draft EIS studies a proposal by six energy companies (BP America, Pure Resources, XTO Energy, Elmridge Resources, Petrox Reources and Exok) to develop approximately 300 new coalbed methane wells on USFS, BLM, and private lands in the Northern San Juan Basin of southwestern Colorado. The analysis area encompasses 125,000 acres north of the Southern Ute Indian Reservation in the counties of La Plata and Archuleta. 

In the early 1980s, USFS and BLM management plans identified all federal lands in the analysis area as suitable for oil and gas leasing. Since then, most of these lands have been leased. The EIS will consider cumulative effects from development on private lands, but will make no decisions involving private property, because the EIS has jurisdiction only on federal lands and minerals. The EIS covers the overall development proposal, as well as site-specific proposals for well sites. It includes seven alternatives that study different development scenarios and mitigation measures. 

A myriad of issues are discussed in detail, including the physical, social, and biological impacts from development of leases.
Total coalbed methane reserves in the Northern San Juan Basin analysis area, including production to date, are estimated at about 2.5 trillion cubic feet, which could result in about $7.5 billion in gross revenues. The 300 coalbed methane wells proposed for the Northern San Juan Basin could accommodate the residential needs of hundreds of thousands of households per year based on average residential use rates. The life expectancy of the wells is estimated at about 25 years. The U.S. Forest Service and BLM are committed to the timely development of energy resources in an environmentally sound manner as part of the National Energy Policy. 

CD copies of the Draft EIS are available at the San Juan Public Lands Center, 15 Burnett Court, Durango, 970 247-4874, or the Columbine Public Lands Office, 367 Pearl Street, Bayfield, 970 884-2512.  Because the EIS is very large, limited hard copies are available. The document may be viewed on the Web at or

Written public comments must be postmarked no later than September 8, 2004, and mailed to Northern San Juan Basin CBM EIS, USDA FS Content Analysis Team, P.O. Box 221150, Salt Lake City, UT 84122. Comments may also be emailed to: