Critics: Energy master plan does no good

Mesa County Commissioners Janet Rowland and Craig Meis say the county’s evolving energy master plan is promoting the coexistence of the energy industry and Mesa County residents.

Their Democratic opponents in the November election say otherwise.

“There is no energy master plan,” said Dan Robinson, who is challenging Meis in District 1. “Craig has been in office for three years. If it was so important, why hasn’t he done anything about it?”

Late last year, Meis said the plan was 75 percent complete. Asked about that statement last week, Meis said he was referring to one specific component of the plan: a Web site that allows the pinpointing of energy structures, from well heads to compressor stations, and then analyzes the impacts to viewsheds, roads, water and other resources or infrastructure.

“To suggest the entire energy master plan is done is ridiculous,” Meis said. “There is lots that has to be
done.”

The plan lacks public input, Robinson said.

But the public was given three opportunities to comment on the Web tool in July and August. Many of the public’s concerns were not with the plan, but were in regard to evaporative wastewater pits used by the energy industry to dispose of drilling fluid.

“We are responding to what we heard in those meetings,” Mesa County administrator Jon Peacock said, referring to the county’s adoption of new wastewater pit regulations in February and a recent review of Black Mountain Disposal’s conditional-use permit.

The county is also on the verge of adopting new regulations for temporary energy worker housing and
temporary storage of equipment, Peacock said.

Dickie Lewis, seeking to unseat Rowland in District 3, said Meis has been working behind the scenes with energy companies.

“He sat down with the energy people and drafted it (the initial energy master plan),” Lewis said. “And when that hit the fan, that is when they decided to hire a consultant.”

The commission approved a consultant’s contract for $138,995, with half the funds coming from a Colorado Department of Local Affairs grant, for the consulting firm EDAW to further develop the plan.

But the commission and county staff learned during a meeting Tuesday that EDAW’s contractor on the job, iCAST, has not begun the second phase of the master plan: further mapping of county resources and the beginning of energy policy analysis.

“We’ve just run into some difficulty,” said Keith Fife, long-range planning division director for the county.
County staff is now trying to work with EDAW’s president to get the energy master plan back on track. Fife said that goal is attainable.

Rowland said there have been no fewer than 45 meetings regarding the plan, many between the commission and county staff.

“They (Lewis and Robinson) make so many outrageous and incorrect allegations ... Of all the meetings that I have attended about the energy master plan, I don’t recall the energy industry being there,” she said. “To say the public hasn’t been involved or invited is a lie, period.”

To learn more about the county’s energy master plan, visit http://www.mesacounty.us/planning/EnergyMasterPlan.aspx.


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