Advice for advisory board
In a place such as Garfield County, where there is currently more natural gas drilling than any other county in the state, it makes a great deal of sense to have an organization such as the Energy Advisory Board, which can bring different sides together to discuss issues affecting the energy industry and local citizens.
The advisory board serves little purpose, however, if its meetings have become events where opponents of the industry can rant unceasingly and next to nothing is accomplished.
That is roughly the picture that energy firms paint of the Energy Advisory Board these days.
“This forum has deteriorated into a toxic atmosphere that serves as a means to bash industry, with no direction to bring it back on course as a conflict-resolving and educational body,” representatives of seven firms wrote to Garfield County Manager Ed Green.
There certainly has been some of that lately, although only a few people regularly attack the industry at board meetings.
When the advisory board was formed, it served as a legitimate forum where local citizens could raise questions and detail complaints about drilling activities. It was a place where the different groups could work to resolve their conflicts.
That sort of forum serves the interest of the gas firms as well as the public, helping them deal with minor problems before they become major ones or explain, face-to-face, why a certain practice is necessary. It’s in the energy companies’ interests not to abandon an advisory board that works in a civil manner to deal with such problems.
But no one should expect the companies to continue to devote valuable staff time to a voluntary organization if the meetings are nothing more than extended attacks on the industry.