Tipton opens talks on Thompson Divide drilling
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Gas developers SG Interests and local opponents of gas drilling in the Thompson Divide area met for the first time with Colorado’s U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Cortez) Friday, in what one participant said was “a first step” in a long process.
On that same day, a federal appeals court in Denver upheld a Clinton-era roadless rule, overturning a previous ruling by a Wyoming judge in a development that may have significant repercussions for the Thompson Divide controversy.
“I think it will be necessary to have future meetings,” predicted Dorothea Farris, board member of the Thompson Divide Coalition (TDC), which is hoping to prevent drilling in the area.
Tipton organized the meeting after repeated requests from the TDC. Farris said the TDC had been trying to meet with Tipton and his predecessor, John Salazar, for close to two years.
The meeting included representatives from the offices of U.S. Senators Michael Bennet and Mark Udall, both Democrats from Colorado, as well as Robert Guinn, a vice president with SG Interests, an energy company that holds numerous gas leases in Thompson Divide.
“Everyone was most gracious,” said Farris, referring to the meeting, which took place in Carbondale.
That assessment was echoed by Robbie Guinn, a vice president with SG Interests, who said, “I thought it was a good meeting, very pleasant people. I look forward to working with them.”
The two parties did not back down from their positions, however.
“This was not a position-taking meeting,” Farris said. “It was more gathering as much information as we could. Our position, that this area is inappropriate for oil and gas development, has not changed.”
“We weren’t there to resolve anything,” Guinn said. “We were more there to exchange information. We still want to develop the leases.”
Friday also was the day that the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver upheld the so-called Clinton Roadless Rule.
That 2001 regulation, enacted under the outgoing administration of former President Bill Clinton, banned the building of new roads in large roadless areas around the country.
The decision affects some 49 million acres of public lands, including much of the Lake Ridge area where SG Interests has gas leases, Guinn said.
“We’re still determining what that means to us,” he remarked.
As for the talks with the TDC, Guinn said, “We still have a long way to go.”
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