Letter: Battlement Mesa background
A recent Post Independent poll indicated that 91 percent of the 1,400 respondents felt that the Garfield County commissioners should not have approved gas drilling in Battlement Mesa. With antiquated Colorado laws siding with mineral rights owners, what choice did the commissioners actually have? Besides, they really want those tax revenues generated from natural gas production. Gone are the days when a lone miner with a donkey and a pickax chipped away at the ground in a remote location to harvest his minerals, with minimal impact on anyone.
To be clear, Battlement Mesa was never marketed as a community to house people involved in the natural resources industry after Exxon sold the land. It was marketed to entice active retirees who would be permanent, taxpaying residents. That leads me to pose a few questions of a moral and ethical nature.
If you were a developer who wanted to buy acreage to establish a Planned Unit Development with the intent of selling individual lots to potential homeowners, would you purchase that land from Exxon without fee-simple title if you would not own both the surface and the mineral rights to protect your investment as well as the property investments of your ultimate buyers?
Or, if you just wanted to buy the acreage as a surface owner intending to benefit financially from future mineral exploitation and surface disturbance of your property, why promote your large-scale residential community to retirees at all? An industrial zone including affordable housing would have seemed more appropriate.
The community has since evolved to include many diverse workers, many of whom will welcome the prospect of increased energy development and jobs, but they don’t want industry in their backyards either. Many of these residents do not work in the energy sector, but rely on the income derived from the services they provide to industry workers.
Battlement Mesa residents are not against natural gas drilling nor are we trying to take away anyone’s mineral rights if those minerals can be safely extracted from outside our community. Natural gas is referred to as “clean energy,” but it is a dirty industry and we are opposed to it so close to our homes.
Many of us bought our properties without knowledge of the existence of a Surface Use Agreement between the developer and the mineral rights’ owner that identified locations of future drill pad sites. We were unaware because the agreement had not been recorded in county records nor disclosed to us until many years later. Who would buy a lot at a premium price knowing that the potential for mineral extraction at some future date within such close proximity to your home site was possible? If the document had been ethically disclosed, many of us would have bought elsewhere.
Perhaps the developer is devoid of a moral compass. Fortunately, the respondents of the Post Independent poll are not. As the saying goes, “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.”
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We are so angry about what has been going on with developments the last few years. Small-town character is basically gone. For what is left, we need to stop developments and like a business, take…