Energy company questions GarCo stand on truck route

A representative for an oil and gas developer has questioned Garfield County commissioners’ opposition to routing energy traffic into Glenwood Springs, noting that the same route already receives truck traffic.

Eric Sanford of SG Interests said Four-Mile Road into Glenwood Springs already is traveled by logging trucks and by vehicles from SourceGas, an energy utility that operates a gas storage field using old oil and gas wells high up the road.

“They are an oil and gas company. It’s simply that they store gas rather than extract it,” Sanford said.

Commissioners on Monday considered formalizing in a letter to the Bureau of Land Management their previously voiced concerns about SG Interests’ plans to run traffic on Four-Mile Road and through Glenwood Springs in connection with wells it plans to drill southwest of Glenwood Springs.

That’s part of an area of more than 200,000 acres stretching as far south as McClure Pass that a group called the Thompson Divide Coalition is seeking to stop from being drilled. Garfield County has supported the coalition’s efforts and draft legislation by U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., which would prevent future leasing in that area and encourage relinquishment of existing leases through trades, purchases, donations or other means.

Commissioners say Four-Mile Road is not a designated county heavy haul route and isn’t appropriate for intensive drilling traffic. They’re also worried about the impact of such traffic in Glenwood Springs, including on bridges and narrow roads. Commissioner Tom Jankovsky told Sanford Glenwood Springs is a tourist town, and SG’s traffic plan creates a potential for conflict between two leading Garfield County industries: energy development and tourism/recreation.

But Sanford questioned the practicality of alternative accesses to SG Interests’ leases, such as via Divide Creek south of Silt. He said he remembers driving that route in June.

“It took us two hours and 45 minutes, as I recall,” he said.

Glenwood resident George Wear said if drilling is going to occur where SG Interest is proposing, “Four-Mile Road is the only good access.” He said he’d rather see the county simply oppose drilling in that area altogether, and questioned the motives of commissioners’ haul route opposition, suggesting it might be intended to gain votes in this week’s election. Commissioners John Martin and Mike Samson are seeking re-election.

“There’s no hidden agenda or political issues,” Martin countered. “We’ve been discussing this for over a year.”

Commissioners held off on finalizing their haul route stance pending a joint meeting with Glenwood’s City Council Thursday.


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