HR 823 - Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy Act - National Key Vote


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Title: Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy Act

Vote Smart's Synopsis:

Vote to pass a bill that prohibits oil and gas development on certain public lands in Colorado.


  • Amends the Colorado Wilderness Act of 1993 and designates certain federal lands within the White River National Forest that comprise approximately 6,896 acres and are generally depicted as “Proposed Ptarmigan Peak Wilderness Additions” to the Wilderness Preservation System (Sec. 102).

  • Establishes the Greater Thompson Divide Fugitive Coal Mine Methane Use Pilot Program within the Bureau of Land Management in order to reduce methane emissions, promote economic development, produce bid and royalty revenues, improve air quality, and improve public safety (Sec. 305).

  • Requires the Secretary of Agriculture to submit a report to the House Committee on Natural Resources and the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee detailing the following, no later than 4 years after the enactment of this bill (Sec. 305):

    • The economic and environmental impacts of the pilot program, including information on the increased royalties and estimates of avoided greenhouse gas emissions; and 

    • Any recommendations by the Secretary on whether the pilot program could be expanded geographically to include other significant sources of fugitive methane emissions from coal mines. 

  • Authorizes the Secretary to issue credits for any bid, royalty, or rental payment due under any federal oil or gas lease on federal land in Colorado, in exchange for the relinquishment by a leaseholder of all Thompson Divide leases (Sec. 304).

  • Defines “covered area” as any area designated as wilderness by the Colorado Wilderness Act (Sec. 101).

  • Defines “fugitive methane emissions” as methane gas from those federal lands that would leak or be vented into the atmosphere from an active, inactive or abandoned underground coal mine (Sec. 302).

  • Specifies that the term “Thompson Divide lease” refers to any oil or gas lease in effect on the date of this bill’s enactment within the Thompson Divide Withdrawal and Protection Area, and does not include any oil or gas lease that is associated with a Wolf Creek Storage Field development right or that has expired, been canceled, or otherwise terminated before this bill’s date of enactment (Sec. 302).

  • Specifies that the federal land in the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, and Gunnison and San Juan Nation Forests comprising approximately 21,663 acres is designated as the “Sheep Mountain Special Management Area”(Sec. 203).

  • Specifies that the approximately 28,676 acres of federal land in the White River National Forest in the state are designated as the “Camp Hale National Historic Landscape” (Sec. 107).

  • Specifies that the purposes of the Historic Landscape are to conserve, protect, and enhance, for the benefit and enjoyment of present and future generations, the scenic, watershed, and ecological resources, and to provide for the following (Sec. 107):

    • The interpretation of historic events, activities, structures, and artifacts of the Historic Landscape, including with respect to the role of the Historic Landscape in local, national, and world history;

    • The historic preservation of the Historic Landscape consistent with the designation as a national historic site and other purposes;

    • Recreational opportunities with an emphasis on the activities related to the historic use of the Historic Landscape; and

    • The continued environmental remediation and removal of unexploded ordnance at the Camp Hale Formerly Used Defense Site and the Camp Hale historic cantonment area. 

  • Specifies that nothing in this act does any of the following (Sec. 306):

    • Expands, diminishes, or impairs any valid existing mineral leases, mineral interest, or other property rights wholly or partially within the Thompson Divide Withdrawal and Protection Area, including access to the leases, interests, rights, or land in accordance with applicable federal, state, and local laws;

    • Prevents the capture of methane from any active, inactive, or abandoned coal mine covered by this act, in accordance with applicable laws; or 

    • Prevents access to, or the development of, any new or existing coal mine or lease in Delta or Gunnison County.