Our View: Harmless decision

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It seems anytime drilling for natural resources comes up, the conversation invariably raises intense feelings.

Such is the case after the county leased its mineral rights last week to the land under Loudy-Simpson Park.

Some residents are angry the county agreed to lease its mineral rights under the park because they worry there will be drilling rigs scattered across Loudy-Simpson.

It's hard for the Editorial Board to feel anything but pride when we see local residents take up a cause with the kind of fervor usually reserved for a football game, we only wish their good intentions were better placed.

The Moffat County Commission is not turning Loudy-Simpson Park over to oil and gas interests.

The park is in no real danger.

In fact, the commissioners brought up the very same concern as most residents before they voted on the lease agreement.

Like those who have chosen to speak up, the commissioners do not want Samson Resource Co. - or any company, for that matter - to put a natural gas well in the middle of Steve Ivers Field.

They approved the lease agreement in part because the Museum of Northwest Colorado, a county-owned entity, also owns a share

of the minerals under Loudy-Simpson.

This means that should Samson ever decide to drill, it would have to negotiate a lease agreement with the museum, too. If and when that happens, county officials will be able to add surface limitations.

County lease agreements also requires energy companies make a "good faith effort" to negotiate surface use agreements with whoever owns the land they intend to drill. In this case, Moffat County owns the entire 320-acre parcel.

While the county could not legally prevent Samson from drilling if the two sides couldn't reach an agreement, what company would wade into the public relations nightmare of fighting a community about its largest public park?

Few, if any, particularly considering the strong backbone of people here, and the fact the local government would join residents in their opposition.

As for that 320 acres, Loudy-Simpson covers about 60, which is less than one-fifth of the total land. If they wanted, county officials could expand that about 100 acres to include the riverfront.

That leaves more than two-thirds of the land in question, which is all county-leased wheat fields, for Samson to explore. With directional drilling technology, it's doubtful the company couldn't tap every area of the park without ever disturbing its surface.

So what are we left with?

In the minds of the Editorial Board, much ado about nothing.

Which is not to say that residents have been foolish in vocalizing their anxiety about the county's recent decision.

If everyone were as willing to be honest about their opinion, the community as a whole would be far better off.

All too often, it seems those who disagree are content to whisper their dissent to others who already share their opinion. This helps nothing, and in many cases, has held the community back from progress.

There have been rumblings some plan to attend the Commission's meeting Tuesday and speak directly to the officials about their concerns.

The Editorial Board hopes people do talk to the commissioners. They should have been the first people called.

Local officials still may be politicians, but they are not unavailable.

Maybe if someone had called the commissioners last week, this controversy would be finished by now.

Editorial board member Kenny Wohl did not take part in this discussion because of a conflict of interest.

Comments

Vermillion 4 years, 11 months ago

The time to negiotate a surface use agreement is contemporaneous with executing an oil and gas lease. It appears that the negiotated lease calls for Samson to make reasonable efforts to negiotate with the surface owner. The surface owner is Moffat County. While Samson may have good intentions concerning the facilities at Loudy-Simpson, they can assign this lease to another company who could care less. Quite often what is "reasonable" is litigated in Court. Should taxpayers money be wasted in future litigation when the problem could have been avoid in the initial negiotations. In order for Samson to drill, they don't have to obtain the lease of any other mineral owners. It appears that the Commissioners want to align themselves in the "drill, baby, drill" part of the Republican Party and then throw the problem to the Museum to protect the facilities of Loudy-Simpson. The Commissioners have done a poor job of protecting a Moffat County asset. Who are the Commissioners and the Moffat County Natural Resource Department serving in this matter? The people of Moffat County or the oil and gas companies. It is disappointing that the Editorial Board did not do a better job of researching this issue. I think the Editorial Board has "struck out" while setting in the dugout cheering on the Commissioners.

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taxslave 4 years, 11 months ago

Well said Vermillion. They, commissioners and paper are so full of it their eyes are brown. They really bank on everyone being stupid.

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GreyStone 4 years, 11 months ago

Looks like the Commissioners and the Museum Guy think that Samson Resource Co. is their good old boy friend and will look out for their interests.

This can not be further from the truth, Samson Resource Co. will do whatever to protect their bottom line, even if it calls for another oil company to place a drill rig on first base of Loudy-Simpson ball Park.

They are in the game to make money, not friends...

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onewhocares 4 years, 11 months ago

I agree with Vermillion with the comment " It is disappointing that the Editorial Board did not do a better job of researching this issue. I think the Editorial Board has "struck out" while setting in the dugout cheering on the Commissioners." I, spent approximately a 1/2 hour on the phone last week with Jack (I believe his name is) of the Natural Resource Division on this matter before writing my letter to the editor. When I asked him how he & the commissioners could be so disconnected with the community (& so blantantly greedy), regarding the usage of Loudy- Simpson & its importance to the community, his comment was "well haven't you heard of Juniper Canyon or South Beach for public use?' I told him I used to patrol both areas as a State Park Officer, and it was insulting for him to even make such a comment, esp. considering both have day use fees, Juniper is barren & the roads unusable when wet, except by a GOOD 4-wheel vehicle, and every time I went to South Beach to patrol, I'd have to deal with the seedy elements of Moffat, and would never recommend children going there to play. He NEVER addressed the safety of the thousands of kids & people who use Loudy for recreation as well as the tournaments that draw people in from all over the US. The county is setting itself up for a huge lawsuit the first time a child decides to "play" on the metal swingset for fun. As for the commissioners--why address them singularily? As I have told my children, don't judge a person by his words, but by their actions and the commissioners actions have spoken volumes, despite what the sounds out of their mouths maybe to calm those who dare challenge their decision obviously not expecting anyone to have known or said anything. I have asked person after person if they knew about this decision BEFORE it was made, and the answer was always no. Why was there not a public vote on the matter & why the quiet backdoor decisions if the commissioners truly thought they were working in the best interest of the public?

Kerrie Clarke

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taxslave 4 years, 11 months ago

Is this sale even legal? If the taxpayers own that land don't they need our permission? I recall an unauthorized sale some years back (does anyone remember)? and they had to renige. I'll post when it comes to me. Ended up in a lawsuit because they had to back down but I can't remember what it was. It was land that they sold for less than what we paid for it.

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missrose 4 years, 11 months ago

If that land was owned by the county then it is the tax payers' dollars going toward the upkeep etc. of that park! Why weren't the taxpayers informed of this decision forehand. I really hope they paid you editorial board well for you to make such absurd and outlandish claims. Don't insult the intelligence of the citizens and maybe for once do the right thing instead of letting money talk first

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