Our View: Oil, gas views help voters decide in election | SteamboatToday.com

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Our View: Oil, gas views help voters decide in election

This fall's election of two of the three seats on the Routt County Board of Commissioners provides residents with the rare opportunity not only to have choices when it comes to who will represent them in county government but also to have one of the most significant issues of the past decade define and differentiate the candidates seeking office.

With early voting beginning in less than two months, it's time voters heard clear stances from the candidates on oil and gas regulation and how they would proceed if elected.

Few, if any, issues faced by county commissioners in recent memory have taken on the weight of oil and gas development here. It's by no means a stretch to suggest that the county's approach to industry regulation in the months to come could have a significant long-term impact on the Yampa Valley, economically and environmentally.

While we've generally been supportive of the current commissioners' deliberate dealings with companies like Quicksilver Resources and Shell Oil, we know that opinion isn't shared by all. The recent formation of a group of residents calling itself Citizens Supporting Property Rights underscores that point. The group of Routt County residents is urging the commissioners to consider carefully the personal property rights of residents who could benefit economically from leasing their mineral rights.

It's easy to empathize with Citizens Supporting Property Rights, which argues that responsible extraction of subsurface minerals would add significantly to the local tax base as well as provide potentially lucrative monthly payments for affected property owners.

Energy development is a complex issue with passionate advocates on all sides, and it's an issue that's not going away anytime soon. That's why it's so important that voters understand exactly where county commissioner candidates stand on this issue.

Incumbent Doug Monger, a Democrat, has made his views relatively clear. It's time for Republican challenger Tina Kyprios to do the same. Same goes for Moose Barrows and Tim Corrigan, the men squaring off for Nancy Stahoviak's District 1 commissioner seat.

All four candidates attended a private meeting of Citizens Supporting Property Rights last week. All four now should be unequivocal — and on the public record — in what specific action they would take as commissioner in dealings with the energy industry.

It's exciting and rare that Routt County voters have two contested races for county commissioner. It's even better that this year's election can be decided on an issue of significant importance.