Drilling opponents start web campaign

Opponents of leasing federal lands on Thompson Divide have taken to the web, using seven Western Slope residents to explain their opposition to drilling.

The effort drew a withering response from an industry official who noted that natural gas remains an important fuel used even by opponents of drilling.

The Thompson Divide Coalition’s “Faces of the Thompson Divide” features ranchers, a high school student, bicycle-shop owners, outdoor industry workers, and a yoga instructor.

The page “is another example of the broad-based coalition behind protecting the Thompson Divide,” Zane Kessler, executive director of the Thompson Divide Coalition, said.

The website, http://facesofthompsondivide.wordpress.com, invites viewers to share their own stories about the importance of the area and is the latest salvo in the battle to discourage drilling on areas that already have been leased, as well as fire up opposition to additional leasing of the federal lands.

Thompson Divide, a 221,500-acre area roughly between Aspen, Glenwood Springs and Paonia, contains 61 leases on 106,000 acres. Much of the leased land is on roadless areas.

Drilling the area also is an important part of the regional economy, said David Ludlam, executive director of the West Slope Colorado Oil and Gas Association.

“We applaud the Thompson Divide Coalition’s effort to promote discussion about who lives in the greater Aspen area,” Ludlam said. “We’re excited to talk with coalition members about the natural gas they use, where it comes from and who should be producing it. This is an important discussion that residents of western Colorado deserve to have.”

Thompson Divide includes 30,500 acres in Mesa County and the largest portion, 81,100 acres, is in Pitkin County. It also includes 51,700 acres in Gunnison County, 43,500 acres in Garfield County and 7,700 acres in Delta County.


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