Thompson Divide drilling: this is how it all begins

thompson divide aerialIn today’s PI, former Garfield County Commissioner Trési Houpt shares her perspective on the status of the Thompson Divide oil & gas leases. Thank you, Trési, for making this important information public, as well as pointing out the motive behind the BOCC’s approval of road “improvements” on Four Mile (see Four Mile contract OK’d).

In addition, Tod Tibbetts flew over Thompson Divide on the evening of June 28. Normally flights from DIA to Grand Junction fly over the Flat Tops. Because of the storms that evening, their flight was re-routed further south. Tod said he counted six new well pads up East Divide Creek. They are most likely located on private lands adjacent to the White River National Forest. Drilling activity is definitely ramping up between Four Mile (Sunlight) and East Divide. Just so you know. This is how it all begins …

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tresi houptGarfield County commissioners look to be laying groundwork for Thompson Divide drilling
By Trési Houpt, former Garfield County Commissioner and former COGCC Commissioner

I gathered with other interested people to listen to Scott Fitzwilliams, supervisor of the White River National Forest, speak on the current status of oil and gas leases in Four Mile Park. The BLM was meeting with SG Interests (the company holding the leases for development) and other stakeholders to begin collecting data to conduct an environmental impact statement on the leases. This is the beginning stage for moving the process forward to approve or deny drilling in this portion of the Thompson Divide region.

I would like to thank Scott for meeting with us for a very informative discussion. I learned some important facts today:

  • The Forest Service has already informed the Garfield County commissioners that it will NOT build an alternate route from East Divide Creek for trucks carrying equipment, water, chemicals and ancillary facilities to drill sites in and near Four Mile Park. So, if drilling is approved up Four Mile, the traffic will move up Four Mile Road … unless the county commissioners take formal action to remove this county road as an official haul route for oil and gas development (which they have not done to date).
  • The Forest Service has reminded the county commissioners that the commissioners are the only officials with authority to close Four Mile Road to oil and gas traffic. Why haven’t they taken formal action on this issue when they continue to assure the public that they are committed to doing so?

The Garfield County commissioners keep telling the public that they oppose oil and gas industrial traffic on Four Mile Road. Are they being honest with us? Let’s look at their actions:

  • The Garfield County commissioners are currently spending millions of taxpayer dollars to improve Four Mile Road.
  • They built a bridge that cost in excess of $1 million into the Oak Meadows subdivision, where SG Interests holds a lease to drill. Under normal circumstances, this bridge would be unnecessary.
  • Against overwhelming public opposition, they approved a contract to blast the mountain near Black Diamond Road and straighten the curve. This is a beautiful geologic feature and a natural traffic-calming device. The new design accommodates faster speeds and industrial traffic.
  • They approved a contract to pave all the way to Sunlight.

WHY is the county making these improvements? Who will benefit? It is my opinion that through action taken by our county commissioners, we as taxpayers are paying to open this area up for oil and gas development.

Now is the time to become involved. The BLM has begun the process to identify what values need to be protected should development move forward. Please attend a gathering from 4-7 p.m. on July 13 at Two Rivers Park to learn more about the issues.

Unified for Thompson Divide: BBQ by the River

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One Comment on “Thompson Divide drilling: this is how it all begins”

  1. Carl Mc Williams Says:

    In her July 5 OP/ED piece in the PI: former Garfield County Commissioner Tresi Houpt has made very astute and damning allegations against County Commissioners Mike Samson, Tom Jankovsky and John Martin:

    As I recall, approximately two weeks before the November 2012 election, Samson, Martin and Jankovsky held a quasi-public meeting to assure the voters they would not support developing Four Mile Road into Thompson Divide for oil & gas exploration. Eight months later, the action of these three Republicans in spending millions of dollars in Garfield County money on roads and bridges to accommodate heavy industrial truck traffic into the Thompson Divide, proves these three men cannot be trusted.

    I have seen first hand the overwhelming industrial traffic natural gas exploration brings. During the temporary gas boom, the Parachute/I-70 off ramp and the Parachute Creek Road was an unthinkable nightmare of bumper-to-bumper heavy industrial vehicles moving at 10 miles per hour. The diesel engines spewing exhaust, the noise pollution along with the temperament of the gas well workers who were outraged by the 10 miles per hour speed, is a predicament East Garfield County must not endure.

    Accordingly, because Samson, Martin and Jankovsky cannot be trusted, the only remedy is to recall all three. The sooner they are recalled the better it will be. As county commissioners they have the legal powers to set in place irreversible policies. Policies that will forever impact east Garfield County and Thompson Divide.

    The only permanent solution to save Thompson Divide and East Garfield County is to recall Samson, Martin and Jankovsky.

    Carl McWilliams
    Silt

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