New exploration drilling plan for Pawnee Grassland drafted

Associated Press

New exploration drilling plan for Pawnee Grassland drafted

STERLING, Colo. (AP) — Federal authorities have proposed making nearly all federally owned and unleased areas of the Pawnee National Grassland in eastern Colorado available for drilling.

A draft report released by the U.S. Forest Service Tuesday would allow underground drilling as long as there is no surface activity, meaning the mineral rights may be leased for horizontal drilling.

The Sterling Journal-Advocate reports ( that the checkerboard landownership pattern in the area allows for oil and gas resources to be accessed from adjacent private and state lands, as well as existing leases on the PNG where surface occupancy is allowed.

Oil and gas production from the PNG is estimated to generate more than $241 million in federal royalties.

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