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Oil/gas discussion will be a long process

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At their Aug. 3 regular meeting county commissioners Mark Roeber, Bruce Hovde and Doug Atchley were asked about a letter to the editor in the July 29 issue of the Delta County Independent from Wink Davis of Mesa Winds Farm & Winery concerning the status of oil and gas development in the North Fork.

Davis thanked "the Delta County Commissioners and staff for their support of withdrawal of the public lands surrounding the North Fork Valley from future oil and gas development."

Commissioners stressed that discussions on this matter are very much "in process."

The discussion revolves around a proposed federal oil and gas lease exchange, where SG Interest is offering leases it owns in the Thompson Divide Area to be exchanged for like leases in Delta, Mesa and Gunnison counties.

A statement issued by county administrator Robbie LeValley in July explains, "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."

Commission chair Mark Roeber reiterated this week, "This will be a long, drawn out process before a decision is reached. Also, it will take congressional action to enact the final decision."

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