Energy Advisory Board adds two Carbondale representatives |

Energy Advisory Board adds two Carbondale representatives

John Colson
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” Garfield County’s beleaguered Energy Advisory Board, which recently was accused of not doing its job in terms of forwarding citizen complaints about the gas industry, now has caught some minor criticism from the county’s elected leaders for delays over procedural matters.

The Garfield County commissioners moved to add two new members to the EAB, which was created both to educate the public about the oil and gas industry and to act as a conduit for everything from complaints about company activities to reports of the companies’ successes.

Because Carbondale, which is at the southeastern edge of the county, might find itself affected by gas drilling in the Thompson Creek area, the county has asked the town to name a prospective representative or two.

At the same time, according to county officials, the commissioners have asked the EAB to come up with a new set of bylaws that officially makes room for Carbondale, as a precursor to rewriting the EAB’s enabling resolution to the same end.

“If you don’t want to wait for the EAB, you can go ahead and do it,” county attorney Don DeFord told the commissioners on Monday.

“I don’t know how long I want to wait,” responded commissioner Tresi Houpt, clearly miffed that the Carbondale matter was still hanging in limbo.

She and fellow Commissioner Mike Samson (commission chair John Martin was not at the meeting) voted to add two Carbondale reps ” former oil-and-gas industry worker Artie Rothman, and environmental activist Clare Bastable ” to the makeup of the EAB, and to modify the board’s enabling resolution to make room for representatives from Carbondale, Glenwood Springs and New Castle.

“We’re a step ahead of them,” responded Silt town manager Betsy Suerth on Monday, who also is chair of the EAB. She noted that she was ready to appear before the commissioners at any time with a new map of the EAB’s representational makeup, and proposed new bylaws.

Suerth said the discussions of the expansion of the board had started last fall, but had “taken some time” to work out exactly how to redraw the map to reflect both intensified drilling activity and greater interest among the citizenry.

Activated in 2004, the board currently has more members than it originally was meant to have, according to Judy Jordan, the county’s oil and gas liaison.

Initially, she said, the board had places for 10 nonprofit organizations or governmental representatives ” including the communities of Parachute, Battlement Mesa, Rulison, Rifle and Silt, as well as other regions surrounding the towns. In addition, there are places for 15 industry representatives, and six citizen representatives in the resolution that created the EAB in 2003.

That was expanded in 2008, Suerth said, to include 15 industry reps and one additional citizen rep.

More recently, the board has been discussing a need, voiced by some of the citizen reps, to add five more citizens to balance the influence of industry and governmental reps. A subcommittee of the board recently proposed a redrawing of the map that lays out which citizens represent which parts of western Garfield County, which is expected to go to the commissioners soon for ratification.

The new representational map, according to statements made at a recent EAB meeting, would add five citizen reps to the board, although at the time it did not seem intended to include the two new Carbondale reps.

Houpt, acting chair in Martin’s absence, directed the county staff to arrange a meeting with the EAB to clear up some of the confusion surrounding the board’s makeup.

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