I believe that in the letter published in the Saturday Steamboat Today (“Applaud commission”), Harry Thompson, Steve Elkins, Amy Williams and Jody Camilletti (on behalf of Citizens Supporting Private Property Rights) misinterpreted the comments and actions of the Routt County Board Commissioners at the hearing regarding the Entek oil and gas well. That well is going to be developed on federal land, and the commissioners are limited by law in their regulation of oil and gas wells on federal land. The commissioners can regulate only activities related to those wells that impact adjoining private land or county roads. Since Entek is going to use Moffat County roads to access the well, there were no impacts to Routt County roads, and no other off-site impacts to private land or resources could be identified. Given those facts, and if the comments attributed to the commissioners in the Steamboat Today article about the well hearing are accurate (“County OKs oil well permit,” May 8 Steamboat Today), the commissioners only conditioned their approval of the Entek well to the extent they were allowed by law, hence deleting conditions that did not apply to this particular petition. Commissioner Tim Corrigan realized that even though he and the other commissioners had concerns about the grouse leks in the area, they had no right to regulate that issue on federal land.
The template of oil and gas conditions developed by the previous Board of Commissioners was just that — a template. With each oil and gas petition evaluated by the commissioners and planning, the conditions in the template were meant to be used, revised or deleted according to that specific petition. It is my belief that this new Board of Commissioners will continue to do that, and when a petition is on private or state land, the board will evaluate the potential impacts of that petition and put conditions on it that will not be in operational conflict with the regulations of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission but that will protect the environment, natural resources and other property owners in the area.
Yes, the Board Commissioners should consider all planning issues in a fair, equitable and practical manner, but that needs to be done while taking into consideration not only the needs of the petitioner, but also the concerns of adjoining property owners and the general public along with impacts to the environment and natural resources. It is not an easy task and must be done in a balanced manner that benefits the community and county as a whole. There are other “private property rights” to consider, not only those of the petitioner.
Former Routt County commissioner