Garfield County to consider rescinding oil shale stance
Garfield County commissioners will consider Tuesday rescinding a controversial oil shale resolution that critics say originated from an illegal meeting in Utah.
Commissioner Tom Jankovsky said Friday that the goal is to resolve concerns over the Utah meeting.
“With all this uproar it’s better to just rescind it and then deal with it again at another meeting,” Jankovsky said.
The Grand Valley Citizens Alliance and Western Colorado Congress recently sued Garfield County and called on it to rescind the resolution.
The suit said the county failed to give 24 hours notice before commissioners participated in the March 27 meeting in Vernal, Utah. It also says commissioners failed to take a vote before meeting behind closed doors, or give a legal reason for doing so or the topic to be discussed, and illegally adopted a position in the meeting.
In Vernal, county commissioners from northwest Colorado as well as Utah and Wyoming met with others including industry representatives, leading to development of a draft policy position later adopted in various forms by the counties.
That position challenged the Bureau of Land Management’s proposal to sharply reduce acreage for potential oil shale leasing. Garfield County adopted its resolution in an open, April 9 meeting after taking public comment, but the suit said it simply rubber-stamped what was previously agreed to.
Uintah County, Utah, the meeting’s host, has acknowledged illegally holding the Vernal meeting, saying it posted notice minutes shy of the 24 hours required in Utah.
It later voided the meeting, rescinded the resolution, then readopted it.
Jankovsky said he expects Garfield County to revisit the issue at a later meeting in which public comment would be accepted. He said he hopes the same resolution would be adopted.
Jankovsky, who helped organize the Utah meeting, said he thought Garfield County had provided proper notice of its involvement in the Utah meeting but he isn’t sure. He said county Clerk Jean Alberico had requested some information from him that he’d failed to provide.
Elena Nunez, executive director of Colorado Common Cause, said the group doesn’t have a position on oil shale.
“We just feel it’s important that the resolution be discussed in a fully transparent process,” she said.