Routt County quickly forms oil, gas working group


Past Event

Oil and gas working group meeting

  • Wednesday, December 28, 2011, 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
  • Routt County Courthouse, 522 Lincoln Ave., Steamboat Springs
  • Not available


Past Event

Oil and gas working group meeting

  • Wednesday, January 4, 2012, 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
  • Routt County Courthouse, 522 Lincoln Ave., Steamboat Springs
  • Not available


Group members

■ Former Routt County Commissioner Ben Beall

■ Shell Oil senior geologist Matthew Holman

■ Quicksilver Resources Senior Director of Government and Community Affairs Stephen Lindsey

■ South Routt resident Kyle Elston

■ Stantec environmental division leader Jim Kerr

■ Environmental cleanup expert and Yampa Valley Sustainability Council member Sarah Jones

■ Mining engineer Maynard Short

■ Saddle Mountain Ranchettes resident and media executive Bethanne Dressel

■ Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission member Kris Neidel

■ Routt County property owner Karen Utterback-Norman

■ Routt County property owner Ken Rogers

■ Routt County Planning Commission member John Ayer

■ Routt County Manager Tom Sullivan

■ Routt County Director of Environmental Health Mike Zopf

■ Routt County attorney John Merrill

■ Assistant Routt County attorney Erick Knaus

■ Routt County Planning Department Director Chad Phillips

■ Routt County Planning Department Planner Chris Brookshire

— Routt County’s new 18-member oil and gas working group includes well-informed property owners, county officials and oil industry professionals — some actively looking for oil here and some not.

Two members who live in South Routt County reflect the diversity of the group. Phippsburg resident Maynard Short describes himself as a mining engineer with expertise in managing information about the handling of toxic materials. Ken Rogers, of rural Oak Creek, said he has been studying the use of liquid propane gas fracking and butane fracking since a subsidiary of Quicksilver Resources purchased a large tract of land close to his property.

“Quicksilver, via subsidiary Thunderhead Properties, LLC, purchased 3,400 acres adjacent to where we live in South Routt County for the purpose of oil and gas exploration,” Rogers wrote in an email. “Because they did not simply lease a pad site, but rather all the land we can see in one direction, we fear what they may be able to do with that much acreage.”

Short spent part of his career observing the oil industry in Texas.

“I was manager of the Digital Oil Well Log Division for Petroleum Information in Houston from 1979 until 1984,” Short wrote in an email. “Then I was the government systems director for Micromedex, the author of poison control databases.”

Also represented are the Community Alliance of the Yampa Valley and the Yampa Valley Sustainability Council. Executives of Quicksilver and Shell Oil, companies that are drilling for oil in Northwest Colorado, also will sit in on the working group.

Routt County Planning Dep­artment Director Chad Phillips said he will run the meetings of the working group with a specific goal in mind: reviewing the county’s existing menu of 61 conditions it may consider imposing on new oil and gas drilling permits and exploring whether more should be added to the list.

“I want to begin by letting them know our constraints as a local government,” Phillips said.

The first meeting is scheduled Dec. 28 and a second is Jan. 4.

There is some urgency behind the way the working group was assembled this week and the schedule of meetings, County Manager Tom Sullivan said. A Routt County Planning Commission public hearing has been scheduled Jan. 19 to consider Quicksilver’s newest well-drilling application on the Camilletti & Sons Ranch west of Milner.

Members of the public suggested the creation of the oil and working group Dec. 6 during a work session hosted by the Routt County Board of Commissioners. The next day, Sullivan said, the commissioners began hearing from their constituents, who were calling for a moratorium on new drilling permits or for the creation of the working group. Those contacts made an impression on the commissioners, he said.

The number of people who have signed a petition favoring a moratorium on new drilling permits at had grown to 3,167 at mid-afternoon Friday. A preponderance of the large number of people who signed the petition Thursday gave addresses on Colorado’s Front Range.

On Monday, Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak and Sullivan discussed the public’s interest in the matter. Stahoviak had assembled a working list of people she thought spoke thoughtfully during the Dec. 6 meeting and after.

Commissioner Doug Monger had expressed reluctance Dec. 6 to establish a working group but got on board Monday provided those involved could get something accomplished in advance of the Quicksilver hearing.

Commissioner Diane Mitsch Bush was on vacation.

Sullivan endorsed creation of the working group.

“I like the credibility it lends to the transparency in government we try to promote,” Sullivan said. “As the commissioners agreed on Dec. 6, and I know Diane agreed, Routt County’s opportunity (to influence the path of energy exploration here) is to place conditions on them. I was glad Quicksilver and Shell were at the meeting and understand that if they want to be successful here, they need to pay attention to what the community wants.”


sedgemo 5 years, 4 months ago


Have to say, though, the petition was signed by THOUSANDS LOCALLY before the big wave Thursday, and is still being signed by concerned LOCAL citizens, as well as visitors, non-resident owners, and folks who care about Colorado. Remember we kicked out the Olympics in defiance of big bucks politics and in respect for our home state. Coloradans CARE.

Do your best all!


JC Williams 5 years, 4 months ago

What a bunch of rubbish. It is time for the Governor to step in and stop all interference with potential drilling in Routt County. The State has an oil and gas conservation commission with highly talented people and well thought out regulations that have been in place for decades.

If all of sudden every local government chose to regulate industry that is already covered by the State - exploration and commerce would come to a stand still and financially damage the parties involved.

Private mineral owners, companies and interested individuals it is time to protect your property rights. These self appointed protectors of the public good are uneducated to the reality of the energy it requires to drive our world.

If they continue down this path with insisting on moratoriums and other obstructionist courses of action it is time to use legal means to protect ourselves and make sure the consequences of their actions will cause them to think and learn before making knee jerk reactions to future developments in their county.


darkstar 5 years, 4 months ago


Rubbish indeed. One man's trash, another man's treasure though. Do you live here in Routt County, or do you just have a vested business interest here? 'Cause I'd say that Routt county is a treasure worth saving. It seems you want to trash it....

While you may think that there are "well thought out regulations" with oversight from "highly talented" conservation commissions, there have been several hazardous wells and other sites that have come up around the county and state recently. There is a lot of recent evidence suggesting that these sites have serious environmental and health consequences, and I don't think it's a surprise that a lot of people are concerned.

What does seem to be a concern is the flagrant disregard for responsible stewardship and for the health and safety of the citizens who will be affected by these companies pursuit of the $almighty dollar$. So I give a gigantic BOO HOO to any of the (private) parties that may incur financial loss or hardship as a result.

The bottom line with the oil and gas industry seems to be that there is no value to health and safety when there is profit involved. I just don't understand why you would try to force people legally to accomodate something that causes serious environmental damage and raises health issues. Soulless vultures, the whole lot of 'em....


JC Williams 5 years, 4 months ago

Hypocrisy abounds. I imagine you are willing to burn the gasoline for your SUV and heat your home and run the gondola as long as the crude oil and natural gas come from Lincoln County, or Moffat County but please not pristine Routt County.

BTW, pristine Routt County is a poster child for flagrant misuse and poor stewardship of the land. The ski mountain and large condo developments to name a few make oil and gas exploration seem minor.

You have no comprehension of the level of infrastructure and complex systems required to fuel the country and your county.

Soulless vultures is that all you got.



spidermite 5 years, 4 months ago

KCarson, Your kinda correct. Leave Routt County alone. You've got the soulless vulture accusation reversed but you get an "A" for drama.


sledneck 5 years, 4 months ago

"Oil and gas companies do not value health and safety, only profit."

Why, then, would a conscientious opposer of said production voluntarily enter the open market to engage in the purchase of said materials and commodities from companies that "place zero value on health and safety"? Are only those who GROW coca plants responsible for drug violence; or are those who USE cocaine also responsible?

"My daughter had a [wealthy and priviledged] heiress in her elementary school. The two were discussing their bedtimes and the heiress said that every evening, at ten o'clock, she went to the small refridgerator in her room and took out her usual snack: fresh berries and organic yogurt dripped with honey. My daughter asked, "Who puts it in there?" The heiress paused for a while and said "..." I DON'T KNOW! " The great fault of this generation is not ingratitude but incomprehension." --- David Mamet, The Secret Knowledge

Why engage in voluntary trade with companies that are guilty of social treachery.?

I would also ask all who oppose oil production here in Routt but who voluntarily engage in the consumption of fossil fuels: Where, if not Routt County, are we to look for our worlds' energy?? I believe that using a commodity while opposing its production is a manifestation of the highest form of elitism.


spidermite 5 years, 4 months ago

sled, It's inevitable that there will be oil production in Routt Co. It's not against the law to attempt to tighten the regulations on it. Have you ever been to Rangely?


trump_suit 5 years, 4 months ago

In the words of Ronald Reagan. "Trust but Verify!"

While we should be looking to develop the natural resources here in Routt County, it is also imparative that we establish clear guidelines for those corporations to operate under. Is is also absolutely required that we establish baseline testing for contaminates BEFORE the companies are allowed to drill and frack.

One of the big loopholes in contamination cases is the ability of the O/G companies to cast doubt on the contamination of Well A,B,C becuase they were never tested before the extraction efforts started.

If I was a well user, I would be making sure that I paid for those studies now and would not wait for the drilling to begin. If their efforts contaminate our ground or surface water what then? It seems appropriate to take a few cautionary steps to ensure that we can locate the sources of future problems. In spite of their best efforts to assure us that their efforts a "completely safe" and could not possibly contaminate ground water, there are sure a lot of contamination areas that are directly related to drilling. Funny how that happens when the process is "completely safe".

Just like the financial meltdown, many of us knew that taking a interest only loan was more like rent than a purchase. Many of us also knew that you could not afford $500,000 of house on a $50,0000 salary. The financial markets continued to assure the public that all was well until it was not. This issue is too important to ignore. Many of us are sounding the alarm! Will our elected representatives listen?


the_Lizard 5 years, 4 months ago

Spidermite says, "It's not against the law to attempt to tighten the regulations on it." I thought that the COGCC regs, EPA regs, BLM regs etal couldn't be superceded by or in conflict with county regs? Isn't the county mostly able to regulate through land use codes, and maybe thats what you are talking about? Just wondering. darkstar, many are sounding an alarm and many don't know what they are talking about either or have any interest in finding out, when it comes to energy development. They just continue to sound alarms. One thing I am in argreement with many people on, is the fact that we spent millions on buying development rights from ranchers, but that doesn't include the right to exploit the energy on these "preserved" lands that are so "integral to preserving our heritage" blah blah blah. I think we've been had.


kevin fisher 5 years, 4 months ago

"Our mission is to maintain and improve the quality of life for current and future generations by developing and implementing land use tools that reflect community values"

This is the Routt county planning commission's motto. Let's make sure we implement it.


I fully agree with domestic O & G exploration. But to assert that we have no right, nay duty, to implement a set of local regulations is short-sighted and self-serving, indeed. Those paradigms that work for sparsley-inhabited counties such as Mesa, Moffat or even Kit Carson, may not here.

No matter what revenues fossil fuels may bring to our area, they will never approach those which are generated by tourism. As such, we must zealously protect those attributes which drive said industry.

You truly are living in a dreamworld if you think COGCC standards are comprehensive enough to ensure our community's beauty is not to be impacted. You continue to dream if you think the O&G is responsible enough to self-govern. Few industries have historically had as negative an impact on our country's landscape and environment as O & G.

Bottom line- in the first round of this new wave of exploration, these guys, right off the bat, want to put a rig on a ridge line, in a visual corridor, in a neighborhood accessed by private roads. That's not the kind of start I would think a "responsible industry governed by comprehensive COGCC regs" would champion.


sledneck 5 years, 4 months ago

When it comes to the ranch preservation I think we have been had too. Not only on the ranch itself but the fact that pulling potential developable land off the market raises the price of developable land and, thus, of housing... something we are then told we must combat with "affordable housing" regs. Ridiculous!

I completely agree with Trump about the baseline water-well testing.

It is certainly not illegal to attempt to tighten regulations; some of which might really be helpful in protecting ground water. That is not where I disagree.

When people attempt to blanket energy production, timber, mining, etc with industry stopping regulations simply because they "feel" like they don't want to see oil rigs, coal mines, cut-over forests, THAT's what I have a problem with.

If we are going to regulate industry for the purpose of having reasonably clean air, water, etc that's fine. If we are going to regulate industry as a means of punishment for a percieved track record of a century of "raping the earth" or so that WE don't have to look at the origins of ALL OUR demands then I am against that kind of regulation. I am also against a regulation aimed at returning our environment to a pristine state because the costs are simply too high, especially for those who can least afford it.

It may be useful to bear in mind that every new page of regulation adds cost to our energy. Sadly, some people actually cheer that reality because they believe that will force us all into alternative energy; but I question whether they sometimes carry their thought process all the way through. For every dollar increase in monthly energy bills someone goes without a meal, goes to sleep in a colder house, does without a book or a christmas toy or whatever. Long before high energy prices force us all into the utopia envisioned by radical greens there will be millions of lives impacted negatively and permanently.


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