I’ve been perplexed by the continuous battles about the future of oil shale in Colorado highlighted in recent newspaper articles. I started in the oil shale industry in Garfield County in the 1950s, worked on oil shale projects here through the 1980s, and now work on one of BLM’s RD&D projects. During these times, oil shale contributed to the vitality of downtown Rifle and surrounding areas, and key infrastructure projects funded by the industry provided significant improvements that benefit us today. I have also seen the positive results of increased number of high-paying jobs and tax revenues on the local area.During the 1970s, the oil shale trust fund contributed more than $100 million to affected communities for roads, schools, hospitals, city buildings and water treatment plants. Rifle alone received $2 million for the Highway 13 bypass and an estimated $10 million for various expenses. In addition, Exxon and Unocal spent more than $100 million for improvements in the Parachute and Rifle area – all without any tax dollars. Termination of the Colony project in 1982 (Black Sunday) was devastating for many, but the Unocal project operated until 1991 and provided employment for thousands. Infrastructure improvements funded by oil shale remained after 1991 and provided a foundation for eventual recovery of the local economies. The Rifle bypass was critical for the uranium tailing remediation projects. The old Unocal plant provided infrastructure for the American Soda project, parts of which are now operated by Solvay and Encana. Also, the stress of the recent natural gas boom would have been far more painful without the infrastructure paid for by oil shale development funds.Modern oil shale projects will be more phased in development and will require far fewer employees due to process improvements and advances in automation. Companies universally support the use of advance contributions to local infrastructure as credits to later bonus and royalty payments as a way of making sure that the infrastructure is available when needed. It is time to take a more balanced view of our past and move on to a well-planned future involving stepwise development of oil shale.Arnold MackleyRifle
Aren’t we lucky in Glenwood Springs to have such a well-educated, articulate, and experienced woman in Sonja Linman to seek the Garfield County District 2 commissioner seat and run against incumbent John Martin? The people of Garfield County will do well with a person of this caliber, and we will be brought out of the dark ages in the areas not only of dealing with the gas and oil companies where it concerns the current health but the future of contaminated water in our county from further gas and oil drilling fracking and making sure that we limit that procedure as much as possible. We have had a long, very long, association with John Martin, and indeed a lot has been accomplished, but new ideas are way overdue. As Mr. Fry so aptly put it, this elected official has turned this job into a career, which is not in the best interest of the constituents of this county. I also agree that we should put Mr. Martin on his horse and send him off into the sunset, off into other counties where he has numerous business concerns that will keep him happily busy growing apples. Here is a warm welcome to Ms. Linman to the ballot and wishing her the best in her effort to make our county the best it can be.Michelle BallingerGlenwood Springs
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Garfield County libraries will host James Edward Mills in its second event of the spring lecture series for a virtual conversation about changing the faces of the outdoors.