Community group hosts forum about effects of energy development
September 26, 2011
Steamboat Springs — The Community Alliance of the Yampa Valley wants local residents to understand how oil and gas exploration could affect them.
The nonprofit organization that strives to preserve the natural environment, enhance quality of life and retain the community's character is hosting a public forum about local oil and gas development at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Library Hall at Bud Werner Memorial Library. The forum is free.
"One of our goals is to educate the community," Community Alliance Board of Directors President Jack White said. "That's just part of what we do at the Community Alliance. And this just seemed like a real good issue to take on."
White said the Western Colorado Congress, the Community Alliance's parent organization, has worked on oil and gas issues in other counties, including Garfield and Mesa. With the growing possibility of increased oil and gas exploration in Routt County — officials are reviewing four permits and more companies are making inquiries — it made sense for the organization to start researching the issue to inform the public, he said.
The Community Alliance's forum will differ from the Northwest Colorado Oil and Gas Symposium hosted by the Community Agriculture Alliance and Yampa Valley Data Partners on Sept. 8 in Hayden, White said. That explored the impact of oil and gas development from elected officials, landowners, energy companies and scientists.
He said Tuesday's forum would explore environmental impacts to water, air quality, wildlife and other topics.
In addition to experts in those three areas, Judy Jordan, who was a oil and gas industry liaison for Garfield County, and Routt County Planning Director Chad Phillips are scheduled to present.
Phillips said he would explain the county's role in the approval process and its interest in impacts to surrounding properties and roads leading to oil and gas exploration sites. He said the state oversees everything on the drilling pad, including the pipeline routes to the oil and gas production facilities.
The oil and gas industry is getting more attention, Phillips said, but the county's permits peaked at 20 in 2000. He said the public concern wasn't the same then because so much more information is available now through the Internet and other sources.
"The national attention the oil and gas industry is getting is just opening up the eyes of a lot of people about the things that can go wrong," Phillips said. "Eleven years ago you didn't necessarily have that."
White said the Community Alliance just wants to present information to the public. He said the organization isn't proposing that oil and gas exploration not take place locally.
"We just want to make sure the oil companies are on track to do it right from the beginning," he said.
— To reach Jack Weinstein, call 970-871-4203 or email jweinstein@SteamboatToday.com