Moffat officials react to oil and gas appointments

Gov. John Hickenlooper announced Friday six new appointees to the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.

And, at least one local government official contends the governor got it right.

Moffat County Commissioner Tom Mathers said he was “impressed” by the picks.

“It’s like it’s not about party affiliation,” Mathers said. “(Hickenlooper) picked the people who were good for the job, not good for his party.”

If Hickenlooper’s selections are confirmed, the nine-member commission will contain five Democrats and four Republicans.

The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission promotes responsible development of the state’s oil and gas resources, according to a news release from the governor’s office.

The group seeks to balance exploration and production of natural resources with protections for public health, the environment and owners of mineral rights.

The newly appointed members are:

• Tommy Holton, Republican mayor of Fort Lupton, who has a background in land use planning and has worked in the oil and coal industries.

• John Benton, a Republican from Littleton, who has a background in the oil and gas industry and holds a degree in petroleum geology and petroleum engineering.

• W. Perry Pearce, a Democrat from Denver, who has a background in the oil and gas industry, which includes a management position with ConocoPhillps/Burlington Resources.

• Andrew Spielman, a Democrat from Denver, who has a background in environmental protection.

• Mike King, a Democrat, who currently serves as executive director of the Department of Natural Resources.

•Dr. Chris Urbina, a Democrat, who serves as executive director of the Department of Public Health and Environment.

Returning members of the commission are Thomas Compton, of Hesperus, Richard Alward, of Grand Junction, and Dolly Ann Craig, of Denver.

Hickenlooper, in a news release, said the commission is a good mix of people and backgrounds.

“Different voices and a united spirit of collaboration are key to the success of the commission,” the first-year governor said. “We are confident this group will help serve the industry, land owners and the environment well, as it navigates through issues that are important to both the state’s economy and protection of Colorado’s beautiful landscapes.”

Mathers said he was somewhat disappointed there weren’t more appointees from the Western Slope to the commission, but ultimately the governor’s decision makes sense.

“I was a little bit (disappointed),” Mathers said. “But, you have to understand this is a big area, the state.

“When you talk about oil and gas, we have a little play starting here (in Moffat County). Up north of Denver, they’ve had big plays already.”

On Friday, the Colorado Environmental Coalition released a statement regarding the governor’s appointments.

“Gov. Hickenlooper has repeatedly said he would ‘strike the right balance’ in overseeing the oil and gas industry,” said Elise Jones, executive director of the Colorado Environmental Coalition. “The jury is still very much out as to whether this set of appointments meets that important standard, or whether instead the balance has shifted away from protecting Colorado’s air, water, wildlife and communities from the impacts of drilling.”

Moffat County resident Wes McStay said the new commission may have lost some of its balance.

“As a rancher on the West Slope, I think we need an oil and gas commission that is aware of the particular challenges we face in protecting our land and water,” he said. “I’m concerned that we’re losing some of that awareness with the new commission.”

Mathers, however, thinks the balance has shifted in favor of Northwest Colorado. The last commission, which was appointed by Gov. Bill Ritter, was too restrictive, he said.

“(Ritter’s) philosophy was ‘don’t drill,’” Mathers said. “He came in, he was very green, and he didn’t want any oil and gas activity in the country. And by doing that, wow, it really hurt the economy of the state and the local (economy).”

The new commission could potentially change the economic landscape of Moffat County, Mathers said.

“I think you’re going to see the benefits of oil and gas here,” he said. “It’s going to create jobs. It’s going to create a bigger tax income for the county and the city.

“You’re going to see it make a big difference here.”

While Mathers is pleased with Hickenlooper’s take on the oil and gas commission, he said the Public Utilities Commission is still of great concern.

“I think (Hickenlooper) did a good job with this,” Mathers said of the oil and gas commission. “Now I’d really like to see him do the same kind of good job with the PUC.”

The PUC, Mathers said, is the body responsible for Colorado House Bill 10-1365, which requires Front Range coal-fired plants to switch to natural gas.

“That PUC, to me, were a bunch of dough heads,” he said. “I think quite a few people would agree with me on that.”

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Comments

kathleenpost 2 years, 8 months ago

Wow.Mr. Mathers have you heard the news?There was a class action suit filed for over 5,000 residents around battlement mesa Rifle area(where the lady could light her water with a match because of the gas fracking)recently.They are also concerned about and monitoring air paritcle's that are 3,000 times over the limit from cancer causing chemical's the fracking process realease's in the air.Sounds like you are setting up Craig for disaster.Good luck filling your county coffers and giving everyone including the cows cancer.Just like Routt County,Moffat needs new commissioners to protect agriculture,water and air.Are you that broke there that you need to destroy your home?New people need to prepare to oust these dirty polluter supporter's from the offices.

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kathleenpost 2 years, 8 months ago

I think Hickenlooper and these gas board people need to be sued the next time they destroy our part of the world up here.They are controlling our destiny ,only they can stop or control the oil polluting giants and if they let us down lets file lawsuits to make them answer up for why they approve something that ruins our homes and forest's.If the (little) people don't step up to the plate and make them stop or be safe ,guess what?This hydro fracking nightmare is all your fault voters,you are apathetic to your planet and water.The oil company's don't care what you or your cows drink.Speak up and stop this or you are part of polluting planet killers.We don't need gas conversion.I refuse to let you ruin our part of the world so the front range can have cleaner air.Shame on you Hickenlooper,your grand kids may be drinking cancerous water someday.Thanks a lot grandpa Hickenlooper.

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onewhocares 2 years, 8 months ago

Once again, greed completely blinds the politicians. Kathleen is right about the lawsuits, and Mesa isn't the only place with severe pollution pollutions, including contaminated water because of fracking. There are an endless number of towns across America destroyed because of this practice. You don't have to look far to see the detrimental effects of fracking on the environment. Here is an article in the Huffington Post (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/03/08/wyoming-ait-pollution-gas-drilling_n_833027.html) about the pollution in Cheyenne titled: Wyoming Air Pollution Worse Than Los Angeles. Read about the dangers (even to the children.) We, as the people need to wake up and realize you can't trust politicians as far as you can throw them, with only their own agendas on the table, and as citizens, we must educate ourselves on issues that not only effect us locally, but at the State and National Level as well. The pros and the cons! Like I've said before, the money from fracking will be great initially, but the excitement of your new car or trip or home, will mean nothing when your children are diagnosed with cancer, your ranch animals are contaminated, not to mention the wildlife that is essential to Moffat as well. Money can't bring back those around you.

As a politician, all the commissioners should be ashamed by not presenting the pro and cons of what is about to infiltrate our small town or bringing it up for public vote AFTER everyone knows the consequences. If, we the public keep acting like mindless sheep, the wolves in the form of politicians will keep abusing us and feeding us contaminated food right under our noses! It doesn't end...

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kathleenpost 2 years, 8 months ago

How about we start a new wave for the future"Operation Clean Planet,be part of the solution(whoever you are)or just get out of the way.

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Nadja Rider 2 years, 8 months ago

To all the folks that are against drilling and using fossil fuels. I'm assuming you don't drive cars nor heat your homes, and you're probably independently wealthy and don't need the jobs.

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onewhocares 2 years, 8 months ago

Nadja, I have said it before. I am not against drilling or using fossil fuels. I am against drilling anywhere near towns and populated areas. Big difference. We live in a county the size of Delaware with endless miles of open country, yet the gas & oil companies are only going to be feet from our homes and town compromising the very elements that keeps you and me alive - water, air and food. Please educate yourself before supporting something I don't think you know much about.

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Nadja Rider 2 years, 8 months ago

Anybody that quotes Huffington Post needs to learn how to find more reliable sources of information.

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onewhocares 2 years, 8 months ago

Of course, there is pros and cons to everything, sponsored by God knows who, but there's enough smoke against "Fracking" to realize there's probably a fire despite what the industry says to justify destroying the environment and everything in it (including people and their land, animals, etc) for greed and atrocious profits. Call folks in Cheyenne, Fort Lupton , Mesa County and other areas effected and get their experiences personally. You'll see, there's many people, like the people of Moffat who believed in the industry, made tons of money and learned the consequences too late. BTW, here's a few resources out of many.

1.http://www.usnews.com/science/articles/2011/04/22/natural-gas-from-fracking-could-be-dirtier-than-coal 2. http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Fracking 3. http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2008/08/19/a-toxic-spew.html 4. http://www2.bupipedream.com/news/scientist-lectures-on-negative-impacts-of-local-fracking-1.2223622 5. http://www.buffalonews.com/editorial-page/from-our-readers/letters-to-the-editor/article190886.ece 6. http://trib.com/news/state-and-regional/article_6c6455fd-930e-5db9-ab04-9b62d0e4f48a.html 7. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304887904576395630839520062.html 8 http://www.wyomingnews.com/articles/2011/04/10/news/19local_04-10-11.txt 9. http://www.workers.org/2010/us/fracking_0513/ 10 http://energyandenvironmentblog.dallasnews.com/archives/2010/02/dish-mayor-puts-fear-of-frack.html 11. http://www.nytimes.com/gwire/2011/05/13/13greenwire-baffled-about-fracking-youre-not-alone-44383.html?pagewanted=all 12. http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/11_11/b4219025777026.htm 13. http://arstechnica.com/science/news/2011/05/natural-gas-fracking-can-make-local-well-water-explosive.ars 14. http://www.upi.com/Science_News/2011/04/21/South-Africa-halts-gas-fracking-plan/UPI-23521303431387/ 15. http://www.democracynow.org/2009/9/3/fracking_and_the_environment_natural_gas

People can justify selling their land any way they want, but in five years, the consequences will be undebatable - at that point, it's too late to realize you were wrong.

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ratholer 2 years, 8 months ago

kathleenpost I'm not sure if you have noticed but Craig is already turning in to a disaster. The coal mining jobs are not what they use to be, and the power plant jobs are all full. So why do you think half the town is for sale? I understand No one wants to destroy land and use hydraulic fracuring and contaminate water but there has to be a middle line somewhere because the town needs jobs.

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leroymcgee 2 years, 8 months ago

Ratholer - the middle line is already identified. i.e develop oil and gas in moffat county in appropriate areas while protecting our clean air, clean water, wilderness, and wildlife populations. It can be done, but industry (and our reluctant Commissioners) need to move into the 21st century and buy in as well. Nobody should be given a blank check because they claim to be providing jobs. Especially when most these jobs are filled by Texans (see the article on landmen in Moffat County) or by people already working for the companies in nearby Rio Blanco County, the Vernal area, or Rock Springs. Besides, how many jobs will be lost if our elk/mule deer herds crash (like they did in Pinedale, WY and like they're doing in the Piceance Basin)?

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