Where to put 3,000 new gas wells in Southwest Colorado?

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Where to put 3,000 new gas wells in Southwest Colorado?

Conservationists, energy industry clash over future of federal lands
Lines have been drawn over a Master Leasing Plan being considered by the Bureau of Land Management that would dictate where oil and gas development would be allowed on BLM-controlled lands.
Cliff Vancura/Durango Herald photo illustration

Where to put 3,000 new gas wells in Southwest Colorado?

Lines have been drawn over a Master Leasing Plan being considered by the Bureau of Land Management that would dictate where oil and gas development would be allowed on BLM-controlled lands.
Cliff Vancura/Durango Herald photo illustration
Opinions on the BLM’s Master Leasing Plan

George San Miguel, natural resource manager for the Mesa Verde National Park Service: “Our preference is to protect the quality of that viewshed at both night and day. Industrial operations could reduce the visibility in the area, whether from the dust from vehicles or emissions of facilities. A (Master Leasing Plan) MLP could improve the nature of some of those mitigations by making them less discretionary and more mandatory.”
Mike Nolan, a farmer in the Mancos valley (not on the committee): “Water, water, water. When it comes to the MLP, my big thing on this is a concern on water. If anything happens to our water, whether it’s contaminated or diverted for use in wells, that can be a major problem for us.”
Christy Zeller, representing oil and gas operations for Montezuma County: “It’s another delay tactic to prevent exploration. I’m hoping we can focus on what’s missing in the Resource Management Plan, instead of some emotional conversation that has nothing to do with federal minerals.”
La Plata County Commissioner Gwen Lachelt: “La Plata County took a position three years ago, urging the (Bureau of Land Management) BLM to defer the leases they had made in western La Plata County. La Plata County remains very committed to engaging with the BLM on a MLP.”
Gregg Dubit, representing the public at-large, and owner of Durango Dog Ranch: “When the market returns, I think we have one of the richer gas fields in the country, and there’s definitely consideration that should be factored into the development. I don’t want to be a NIMBY (not in my backyard). If you consume gas, it has to come from somewhere. If the MLP is done right, oil and gas are integrated in without causing visual, recreational, water quality impacts.”
Pete Eschallier, representing recreation for Montezuma County, owner of Kokopelli Bike Shop in Cortez: “Being a local business owner that relies on that trail (Phil’s World), the MLP would be something that would support that. So if there is any oil and gas leasing, it would be smartly zoned in to keep in mind where those trails run. With any kind of wilderness experience you’re having, it becomes less desirable when there’s man-made whatever it could be. Nobody wants to see that kind of stuff when they’re out getting lost.”
Eric Sanford, representing oil and gas industry, SG Interests operations and land manager SG Interests: “To be blunt, I don’t think an MLP is necessary. You have to look at restrictions already in place, which I don’t think the public understands. From a development perspective, you have to assume private land will be developed. So when you talk about things like night sky, you’re talking about MLP preventing oil and gas from being on federal land, wherein the background there might be a dozen rigs on public land.”
Jonathan Romeo

If you go

Master Leasing Plan meetings:
10 a.m. Thursday, La Plata County Fairgrounds in Durango, public comments at 11:30 a.m.
6 p.m. Thursday at Mancos School Gym in Mancos, public comments at 7:30 p.m.
10 a.m. March 16 at Montezuma County Annex Building in Cortez, public comments at 11:30 a.m.
6 p.m. March 16 at Fort Lewis Mesa Elementary in Hesperus, public comments at 7:30 p.m.

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