Commissioner snubbed informational meeting

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To the Editor:

We are writing in response to an article in last Friday's paper on the upcoming conference, "Our Land, Our Rights: A Community Forum on the Future of Oil and Gas in Northwest Colorado." We are helping to organize the conference along with many sponsors including; Western Colorado Congress, Rocky Mountain Farmers' Union, Colorado Mountain Club, National Association of Royalty Owners, New Belgium Brewing, and the Oil and Gas Accountability Project.

The idea of the conference is to bring together a variety of experts, county and federal officials, energy industry representatives and you, the citizens of Moffat along with folks from Routt and Rio Blanco counties to discuss this important issue. The conference is free and open to all members of the public, so we encourage everyone to attend!

We hope that we will all learn from each other and from presenters at the conference. The main focus of the conference is the important issue of landowners' and county rights on how oil and gas development, especially coal-bed methane (CBM) development occurs on private lands across Northwest Colorado. In the past few years, Colorado counties have seen their powers over this type of land use diminish as the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission's powers have increased.

Private property owners who do not own the mineral rights below their land often find themselves facing enormous challenges trying to work out fair agreements with natural gas developers. Even adjacent landowners in Wyoming's Powder River Basin have seen their hay meadows flooded and ranches ruined by upstream development and saline water run-off. On the other hand, many rural communities benefit from the high-paying jobs and tax revenue which energy industry provides.

"Our Land, Our Rights" will address these issues along with other topics including public lands and oil and gas, as well as how citizens can be more active players in all of these important decisions. We are looking forward to a diverse and creative forum which will spark future community discussions. We urge all citizens interested in an open, dynamic dialogue to attend "Our Land, Our Rights" from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nov.16 at The Center of Craig in downtown Craig. See you there!

Christi Ruppe,

Western Colorado Congress

Jennifer Seidenberg,

Colorado Environmental Coalition

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