Meeting aims to rewrite gas commission rules | PostIndependent.com

Meeting aims to rewrite gas commission rules

Lynn Burton
Post Independent Staff

The objective for Saturday’s citizen-called meeting in Rifle is nothing less than to draft changes to Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission rules.

“It has been crazy,” said meeting spokeswoman DeAnna Woolston, an organizer for the Western Colorado Congress.

“Since advertising this event, I have had people e-mail and phone me from around the state. People want to see this industry clean up their act.”

The meeting is titled, “Oil and Gas Regulations: For the People, By the People.” It is set for 1-4 p.m. at Wamsley Elementary School, 225 E. 30th St. in Rifle.

The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission regulates the oil and gas industry in Colorado, and is comprised of staff members and a board appointed by the governor.

Scores of western Garfield County property owners have been impacted by natural gas exploration in the past few years, usually because they do not own mineral rights below their own land.

The mineral rights owners have a legal right to explore for natural gas and other minerals, or to lease those rights to energy companies.

Bob Utesch, who lives south of Silt, is one property owner who has been crowded by drilling rigs, exploration trucks and other traffic that comes with natural gas production.

“The question is, how can natural gas development take place without the severe impacts to the lives of rural residents?” Utesch asked. “The need and value of natural gas will only increase in years to come. It is the next boom. Will agriculture and rural property values be the next bust?”

Woolston said Saturday’s meeting will start with a group session where people will list problems as they see them. Then, smaller groups will brainstorm solutions.

“It is time to rewrite the rules that give industry unfair advantages over surface use, water use and disposal, noise levels, air quality and waste disposal,” said a Western Colorado Congress newspaper advertisement placed to publicize the event.

Doug Dennison, Garfield County’s new oil and gas auditor, said he will attend Saturday’s meeting. “This will be an opportunity to meet the citizens of the county,” said Dennison, whose job is to act as a liaison between the county, its residents, and the oil and gas industry. “This should give me an insight to see what some of the issues are.”

Woolston said Western Colorado Congress also invited key Western Slope legislators, and county commissioners from Garfield, Delta and La Plata counties.

For information on the meeting, call Western Colorado Congress at 970-256-7650, or e-mail to deanna@wccongress.org.

Contact Lynn Burton: 945-8515, ext. 534

lburton@postindependent.com


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