Oil, gas development in Moffat County in question | CraigDailyPress.com

Oil, gas development in Moffat County in question

Dan Olsen

— Moffat County Land Use Board vice chairman Ed Winters asked the commissioners July 10 to draft a letter to Gov. Bill Ritter and U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar expressing concern over their stand on oil and gas development in the county. The commissioners will address that concern today.

Ritter and Salazar recently conducted a fly-over of Vermillion Basin and the Roan Plateau – two areas they are considering trying to protect from energy development.

Winters said the 14-member Land Use Board has been studying the energy development issue for years.

“Look at the (Bureau of Land Management) Resource Management Plan and the county plan. We have a vision for Moffat County,” he said. “We think it’s inappropriate for the governor and senator to be conducting an end-run around local government.”

The Land Use Board was following the position taken by the commissioners two weeks ago, saying that attempting to change the plan agreed to at this late stage is bypassing decisions already made by the county.

Commissioner Saed Tayyara, who said Moffat County is No. 8 in energy-producing counties, went even further in stating his displeasure with the fly-over.

“I’m very disappointed with the Colorado government, sneaking in and out of the county without even a word to the commissioners,” he said. “The majority is being ignored by the government and (Colorado Department of Natural Resources director Harris) Sherman.

“Democracy is being ignored. I feel the tour went behind our backs.”

Sherman came out recently with a statement supporting pulling Vermillion Basin from development for the life of the Resource Management Plan, likely 15 to 20 years.

Tayyara said the decision to try to stop energy development in Vermillion Basin is a “big stakes” issue, affecting the economic growth and livelihood of Moffat County.

Commissioner Tom Gray agreed, saying that the BLM has the final word in the process and the county would hold them to their duty, insisting the bureau does its job and manage the federal land in the county.

The commissioners will approve letters to the governor and senator during their meeting today.

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