Oil and gas liaison should be citizens’ advocate | PostIndependent.com

Oil and gas liaison should be citizens’ advocate

Garfield County is now in the unenviable position of looking for a new oil and gas liaison soon after hiring a replacement for its original liaison, Doug Dennison. Hired in January, Diane Kocis was terminated earlier this month. Assistant County Manager Jess Smith is filling in until the county decides how to proceed.Dennison did an admirable job of working with landowners who have literally seen drilling rigs go up in their back yards. Dennison set the bar high for diplomacy both with landowners and industry. He also came in with some objectivity, since he had knowledge of oil and gas operations, although he had not worked in the field.Kocis, on the other hand, had a background in oil and gas, and some saw her as sympathetic to that industry at the expense of landowners.In this era of increasing gas activity on so-called split estate lands where separate parties own the land surface and underground minerals, this position needs to be held by someone both knowledgeable of oil and gas development and sympathetic to landowner issues.We urge the county commissioners to fill the position with someone who has a working knowledge of the oil and gas industry but who does not come directly from that field. It would also show good faith on their part to invite someone from the Grand Valley Citizens Alliance to participate in the screening process. The alliance has proven to be a thoughtful and vocal advocate for landowners affected by oil and gas development in the western portion of the county. They have much at stake in the filling of this position.Garfield County needs an equally strong advocate for its citizens, and we urge the commissioners to thoughtfully consider how it will fill this position.

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