Club 20 seeks to overturn Vermillion Basin decision

A coalition of Western Colorado businesses, government entities and individuals has called on federal officials to reconsider a decision to close the Vermillion Basin to oil and natural gas development.

Club 20 has urged Bob Abbey, director of the Bureau of Land Management, to support a collaborative management plan that would allow limited energy development in the basin, located in Moffat County in northwest Colorado.

The group argues that Abbey appears to be ignoring input and support from on-the-ground BLM field managers, the prior BLM administration and the State of Colorado in his recent decision to close the 77,000-acre basin.

Club 20 also has asked U.S. Rep. John Salazar, a Democrat representing Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District, to intervene in overturning the decision.

According to BLM estimates, the Vermillion Basin contains more than 200 billion cubic feet of recoverable natural gas. That conservatively translates into:

$700 million of natural gas sold at a price of $3.50 a million cubic feet.

$25.6 million in revenue to Moffat County government entities and taxing districts.

$7.7 million in bonus lease payments that would be split between the state and federal government and partially returned to Moffat County and cities in the county.

$87 million in federal royalties, once again partially returned to Moffat County and cities in the county.

$43.75 million in royalty payments to the state.

And $77 million in ad valorem and severance tax payments.

In a press release, Club 20 said the Vermillion Basin is rich in environmental values and natural gas reserves and both should be capitalized on as part of a balanced management plan. Limiting natural gas development to only 1 percent of the surface area within the basin while ensuring the highest reclamation standards would protect the high desert ecosystems.

Moreover, Club 20 said the issue involves a choice between top-down management from Washington, D.C. and collaborative planning at the local level.

Based in Grand Junction, Club 20 is a 57-year old coalition of businesses, organizations, towns and individuals in 22 Western Colorado counties. The group advocates for the interests of the region on both the state and national levels.