Energy bonds not enough for resident

Craig resident Allan Reishus is worried. He's worried that the proposed Resource Management Plan presented to the public by the Bureau of Land Management does not go far enough in ensuring the reclamation of oil and gas exploration projects in Moffat County.

"Oil and gas companies do experience bankruptcies, and they do experience mergers," Reishus told commissioners at their Tuesday meeting. "When they're done with the land, 20 or 30 years from now, we want to be sure it's cleaned up."

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Reishus asked the commissioners to send a letter to the BLM, asking for increases in the bonds that guarantee land will be reclaimed after energy exploration is finished.

In a letter to the Moffat County Land Use Board and presented to the commissioners, Reishus pointed out that energy companies need bond requirements of $2,500 per well, or $10,000 for all of a company's wells in Colorado, or $25,000 for all of a company's wells in the United States, to explore and drill on federal lands.

As one-half of Moffat County is federal land under control of the BLM, Reishus would like to see much higher bonds posted before drilling operations begin.

"I would ask the land board and the commissioners to address a forceful comment to the BLM that adequate bonding, with an inflation clause, be required and that the bond follow the well site (regardless of sale or merger.)"

Assistant Field Manager for the BLM Jerry Strahan agreed with Reishus.

"Allan is right. Companies will go bankrupt, and we do need protection and bonding," he said. "The down-hole costs are way more than reclaiming a well pad site. The BLM has the authority to require additional bonding."

Commissioner Tom Gray noted that the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission also requires bonding by energy companies doing business in the state.

Natural Resources Director Jeff Comstock also agreed with Reishus, recommending that new companies and companies without a proven track record face an increased bond amount.

Reishus, a wildlife enthusiast, pointed to a history of energy companies being bought, sold or declaring bankruptcy and being impossible to track down two or three decades later.

"We require damage deposits on (home) rentals," Reishus said. "Our public lands deserve the same guarantee. Taxpayers can be stuck with the bill or the ruined land for years and years."

The board of commissioners agreed to include Reishus' comments in the record of comments forwarded to the BLM on the Resource Management Plan.

The public comment period on the plan ends May 16.

In other action, commissioners also:

  • Signed courthouse elevator replacement contract
  • Signed Visual Lease Services Inc. contract and memorandum of understanding with taxing entities
  • Approved acceptance of Childcare Development Grant for social services
  • Received quarterly report from Museum of Northwest Colorado
  • Awarded water tank bid of $21,865 to Industrial Welding and Supply
  • Approved free use application and permit for BLM (Big Burn Pit)
  • Approved obtaining quotes for crack-filler for Road and Bridge Department
  • Approved personnel requisitions for a part-time custodial technician, a full-time legal technician and an assistant caseworker for social services
  • Received Emergency Medical Services council report on Regional EMS Trauma Advisory Council
  • Appointed Cathy Vanatta to Agency on Aging Council and reviewed members for a Senior Needs Survey Team
  • Discussed flood plain administration for Memorial Hospital site

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