Letter: Drilling divide a risky bet | AspenTimes.com

Letter: Drilling divide a risky bet

Drilling divide a risky bet

I’d like to thank local counties and municipalities that have stepped up throughout the years to help conserve the Thompson Divide. Last week, Pitkin County, Glenwood Springs and Carbondale joined their constituents in urging BLM to reject another round of lease extension requests in the area.

I appreciate that our local elected officials realize the community-based effort to conserve the Thompson Divide is about more than just land: It’s about livelihoods and a way of life we pass onto our kids and grand kids. A way of life supported by local watersheds in the Thompson Divide.

The area provides water to the North Fork, Crystal, Roaring Fork and Colorado River valleys — some of the most agriculturally productive valleys in Colorado. These watersheds preserve a rural heritage so unique to communities in the West and support long-term, sustainable jobs in the region.

These watersheds are at risk should oil and gas development ensue. Industry is now looking to extend their leases in the area, but for what? Recent analyses show it’s a very risky bet. According to independent reports released last week, high up-front capital costs and a low potential return on investment make the Thompson Divide “extremely unattractive to drill.”

I’ve grown wary of industry’s attempts to develop the Thompson Divide for oil and gas. Must we jeopardize our local economy for a venture that’s likely to fail?

More concerning are recent comments I’ve read from leaseholders in the Thompson Divide. Quotes from Don Simpson at Ursa Resources like “economics don’t concern us” and “the best way to know what is under there is to go out there and drill” make me question the business acumen of those looking to develop in the divide.

Are they trying to make a rational business-decision, or are they trying to poke a community in the eye for standing up for a piece of land that supports a diversified economy in rural Colorado?

Richard Vottero


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