How Ken Salazar's Position Has Shifted on the Roan Plateau

December 2009

Senator Ken SalazarIt's no secret that Ken Salazar loves Colorado's once-pristine Roan Plateau, the site of intensive gas drilling on the Western Slope. As David Frey writes in a column for the Snowmass Sun, environmentalists didn't know what to make of the former Colorado senator turned Secretary of the U.S. Interior Department. In a feature for Men's Journal, Bill Gifford shows the complexities of Salazar's situation by taking readers to the rugged, "spectacular, and probably doomed" plateau, about a dozen miles north of 1-70 and three hours west of Denver. Salazar is "now in the awkward position of having to defend a drilling plan that he once opposed," Gifford writes. Only months before leaving office, the Bush administration leased the last untouched public land on the Roan to Denver-based Vantage Energy, which then resold it. Still, Salazar seems to hold out hope for somehow preserving the land. "My views on the Roan Plateau have not changed," Salazar says. "The Roan is one of those treasured landscapes of America, a place where we have fish and wildlife resources, beautiful streams; I think there are ways in which the gas could be developed that are more sensitive to the environmental values of the plateau."