Double jeopardy for gas country residents |

Double jeopardy for gas country residents

Talk about double jeopardy.

Xcel Energy’s natural gas customers in western Garfield County, from Silt to Battlement Mesa, are looking at a mighty big price increase for household and commercial natural gas this winter.

Prices are rising because new interstate gas pipelines are now shipping gas drilled in Colorado and Wyoming to the burgeoning markets in California and the Southwest. Gas producers can now compete on the national market, where prices are currently higher.

With the increased value of natural gas, drillers are stepping up their work on public and private lands in the same area. That means more wells and well pads, more roads and pipelines, more traffic, odors, dust and noise.

(And, we should say, more jobs and tax revenues.)

Isn’t that dandy?

The folks living in one of the country’s energy sacrifice areas must pay a higher price to use the commodity, the production of which has pockmarked the landscape on their ranches and surrounding their communities.

It would be fairer to have it the other way around, to have a sort of locals’ discount for natural gas drilled in the county.

The difficulty with that idea, of course, is that Garfield County gas is sold to wholesalers who, in turn, deal to the utilities that store gas and provide it to customers. There’s no direct connection on the supply end between Garfield County gas wells and gas customers.

The only direct connection is the on-the-ground relationship between drillers and western Garfield County residents.

Most people tuned into the gas issue are quick to say they don’t want to stop gas drilling. After all, they use the clean-burning fuel themselves.

They just want drillers to do the job right, impacting their land and lifestyles as minimally as possible.

Whether or not gas prices are going up, drilling companies make enough of a profit to make sure gas development is done right.

After all, people here are paying for it.

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