Letter: Misallocated energy-generated funds
After reading headlines in PI April 21 (Cooper Commons wins largest FMLD grant ever), it is nice to see good causes reaping benefits. What I am not seeing is the source of these funds getting dispersed as originally intended. The Federal Mineral lease and Severance Tax distributions were targeted for energy development impacts.
The first problem is the raid of these funds at the state level, an issue local lawmakers and commissioners have pledged to guard. “But severance tax funds intended to help local governments deal with the impacts of energy development and mining should not be redirected for anything other than that purpose.” (Commissioner Sampson, PI, Feb. 1, 2015).
One of the leading areas of income generation in both these energy-generated funds and Garfield County’s property tax revenue, is the western part of the county. Yet, what we witness on this end of the county is identical to what our local lawmakers decry. Funds seem to get raided at the county level just like at the state level.
These funds need to address the impacts. One of Garfield County’s most-used county roads for energy development is 215 (Parachute Creek) north from Parachute. This road has connections to most of the major energy players in the county. This county road has been in disrepair for years and is consistently worsening. Excessive potholes, patch job after patch job, and hard-to-determine lanes, it is time to see that real impacts are a priority for county funds generated by the energy industry. This is just one example of the blindness toward the western end of the county.
Both municipalities, Glenwood Springs and Carbondale, have publicly stated that they would protest any oil and gas drilling within their communities and pretty much anywhere near, such as South Canyon, Four Mile and the Thompson Divide. Yet year after year, the coffers for these areas seem to attract these energy generated funds like a magnet.
It is time that original intentions of these funds are restored and actual impacts are addressed.