Garfield County area energy panel won’t disband

RIFLE — A Garfield County board that tries to resolve concerns related to energy development has decided it doesn’t want to disband, but instead will tackle concerns raised by the industry itself.

The county Energy Advisory Board voted unanimously Thursday night in favor of remaining in existence, and having a subcommittee evaluate its bylaws and mission and come up with a path forward.

The board was reacting to a letter to the county from seven energy companies who questioned the value of the board, saying its meetings have “deteriorated into a toxic atmosphere that serves as a means to bash industry.”

The board consists of industry officials, municipal and citizen representatives and others, and works to provide education about oil and gas development and deal with impacts of that development. Some companies say they are subject to vicious attacks by the public at the meetings, which they consider negative toward the industry and nonproductive.

Some board members agreed that the board needs to re-evaluate its ground rules for taking public comments, but also said it has helped build relationships between the industry and others, and has helped resolve conflicts over the years.

Industry officials say their Community Counts 24-hour complaint line provides a more rapid response to problems than the board’s monthly meetings, but some on the board said it’s important to discuss issues in public.

“I’m sorry that sometimes citizens’ comments are raw, but you must understand that people’s lives are affected by drilling and sometimes they cannot temper their feelings,” said Leslie Robinson of the Grand Valley Citizens Alliance.

Some area companies, including Chevron, didn’t sign the industry letter about the board.

“We believe it needs to be a productive force for the community and we would like to see it go forward,” said Chevron spokeswoman Cary Baird.

After the board’s decision to press on, Marion Wells of Rulison, who frequently brings complaints to the board, told board members of her frustration over what she considers their failure to respond, including to recent concerns about possible pollution of a creek.


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