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County weighs in on lease exchange

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The Delta Board of County Commissioners has taken an official position on the proposed Thompson Divide gas lease exchange which includes federal gas lease properties in Delta County.

County administrator Robbie LeValley notes the exchange process is likely to be a long one involving levels of government right up to the U.S Congress which will have final say on the exchange and its terms.

The county has been in discussions with local "stakeholders" about the properties involved in Delta County that are located north of Paonia.

The county commissioners have stated their position on the lease exchange proposal in letters to the area's congressional delegation. Last week as stakeholder talks had progressed, LeValley said there was need for a restatement of the county's views. She filed the following advisory that outlines the commissioners' position on the issue.

"Delta County supports the referenced federal oil and gas lease exchange proposed by SG Interests VII, Ltd (SGI) wherein SG Interest is offering leases it owns in the Thompson Divide Area (TDA) to be exchanged for like leases in Delta, Mesa and Gunnison County. The proposal by SGI intends to resolve the continued conflict between efforts to have federal restriction of oil and gas exploration in the TDA and SGI development rights contained in its TDA leases.

"As presented to the county, SGI as lessee of federal oil and gas leases is also including its deep rights in Wolf Creek Field (in TDA) now held indefinitely by production in the exchange. SGI also included as part of the exchange proposal to use directional and horizontal drilling to extract oil and gas from exchange leases in designated roadless areas.

"In the support letter, Delta County reiterated that the proposed legislative exchange provided an opportunity for a larger landscape conversation regarding fluid mineral leasing in the North Fork Valley. Delta County has worked collaboratively with stakeholders in the last two months to reach a point of consensus specific to the mineral management in the North Fork Valley that includes a fluid mineral withdrawal and other legislated stipulations. The point of consensus is for oil and gas only and does not impact coal or the ability to capture and market methane. Development on the exchange leases should be allowed to progress under the lease requirements as administered within federal, state and local regulations. The protections of water resources, air quality, visual resources and related traffic issues must and would be addressed by thorough site-specific reviews and resulting conditions of approvals.

"The letter and proposal are the first steps in a lengthy process and Delta County will be at the table during the drafting, editing, amending and final process. Delta County looks forward to working with all stakeholders during the legislative and regulatory process and will continue to push for the locally developed agreement as part of any legislative package."

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