Energy group joins call for national park

The energy industry has lined up behind the idea of changing the name and status of Colorado National Monument.

The West Slope Colorado Oil and Gas Association passed a resolution of support for the change that is identical to one passed already by the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce and the Grand Junction Economic Partnership, except that it makes the organization’s support contingent on the legislation being carried by the 3rd Congressional District representative.

Support from the energy industry is a “beautiful. beautiful thing,” said Teri Chappel of Grand Valley Region Citizens for a National Park. “It’s a huge step.”

The West Slope COGA board’s approval of the resolution earlier this week reflects a growing confidence in the industry that its needs will be respected if the monument is designated a national park, Executive Director David Ludlam said.

One concern was how park designation would affect service companies and industrial activities in the Grand Valley, Ludlam said.

“As we’ve been educated, our board has become more and more comfortable that the proponents are opening to listening to our caveats,” Ludlam said.

The industry association’s insistence on legislation being carried by the 3rd Congressional District representative was intended to discourage anyone from outside the district from proposing legislation and to assure that local proponents “have the loudest voice in crafting legislation,” Ludlam said.

There have been previous efforts from outside, notably one by the Clinton administration, to expand and redesignate Colorado National Monument.

As is the case with other resolutions, the oil and gas industry statement says its support is contingent on maintaining the current boundaries, protecting access to and from Glade Park and keeping the current air-quality standards.

It also calls for the establishment of a community oversight commission with the power to overturn rejections by the Park Service of proposed uses.

The Park Service’s rejection of a leg of the USA Pro Challenge bicycle race over 23-mile Rim Rock Drive has long rankled local supporters of the race, who contend it would give a financial and promotional boost to the Grand Valley with minimal environmental consequence.

U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Colo., and U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., have said they will decide this summer whether to pursue a new designation for the monument.

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