The Pitkin Board of County Commissioners took an excellent first step in the Thompson Divide drilling possibilities. By responding to the Forest Service in a comprehensive manner, the commissioners have articulated the many issues relating to this real threat.
SG Interests has begun the process that would allow it to start drilling in the epicenter of the elk-calving area for that region. Without question, this will be the most important environmental matter that the commissioners will deal with in the next couple of years.
They must not stop there. This is their "Shellman-Edwards" moment, where great courage and leadership are necessary. Their initial action must be followed up with a greater action of instituting a moratorium against fracking in Pitkin County. This can be modeled after the many that exist throughout the country. They would buy valuable time to further restrict our land-use code when drilling is involved.
As an example, there can be tolls created on the mining interests for the truck traffic that exceeds normal wear and tear that our rural roads take. While the gas companies might not like it, and even possibly threaten litigation, this is when the commissioners must show their resolve and backbone. Think of what Pitkin County would be like if Shellman and Edwards had capitulated in the face of the massive development that was on the books.
During the course of campaigning, it was evident to me that the public was tuned in, and universally opposed, to allowing natural-gas drilling to penetrate our tourist-based economy. If the Thompson Divide area is sacrificed to the drilling desires of the gas companies, and the commissioners have not done everything possible to stop it, then they will have failed us in their duties.
I would encourage members of the public to get involved by communicating their feelings to the individual members of the board. The time is now; we cannot fail.
John B. Young