News in Brief |

News in Brief

The Colorado House Agriculture, Livestock and Natural Resources Committee delayed a vote yesterday on a bill to give surface rights owners more bargaining power in negotiations with natural gas development companies.

The bill was introduced earlier this year by Rep. Kathleen Curry, a Democrat from Gunnison whose district includes the Roaring Fork Valley and part of western Garfield County. Curry said she heard from residents of Garfield County that they feel gas companies have all the leverage in negotiations with landowners over drilling. Curry has repeatedly said the goal of her bill is to “level the playing field.”

In Colorado, the ownership of surface rights and mineral rights is often split. Gas companies acquire the mineral rights and inform the owners of the surface rights of their intent to drill. The parties are supposed to negotiate a surface-use agreement, which includes compensation for damages to property.

Curry’s bill would give the landowners extra power in that process. The bill needs to pass the Ag Committee before it is considered by the full House. If passed, it goes to the state Senate.

There was no action on the bill by the committee yesterday because debate on the House floor unexpectedly continued through the afternoon.

Winners of the 8th annual Wirth Chair Awards have been announced. The statewide awards, which focus on sustainable development, are given in three categories: excellence and depth of media coverage of sustainable topics; community projects or persons which foster sustainable principles; and businesses which feature sustainable strategies as part of their daily operations.

The Aspen Skiing Co. was given the business award for its many industry innovations and its commitment to sustainable recreation, greenhouse gas emission reduction, and energy management and conservation strategies.

Writer Allen Best and the Vail Daily were media winners for a seven-part series on global warming and the possible effects on climate-dependent industries like skiing. The series, “Danger in Degrees,” was featured in the September 30, 2004, Aspen Times Weekly.

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