According to the Delta County Master Plan, the most important county-wide issues are:
1. Preservation of agricultural lands and open space.
2. Protection of private property rights.
3. Maintaining the rural lifestyle.
4. Scarcity of availability of domestic water.
5. Lack of land use planning.
However, the Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) Draft Resource Management Plan (RMP) for the area and its preferred alternative is in direct conflict with these stated goals. The BLM, the county, and the industry are calling this RMP just a planning document, or BLM's way of managing multiple resources, or a 30-year management plan for BLM lands and mineral resources. That's all true. But what they are withholding is that the BLM's proposed oil and gas-leasing plans are a concealed backdoor to zoning Delta County for heavy industrial use in the service of widespread oil and gas operations.
What does a heavy industrial zone look like under this draft RMP?
• 95 percent of the public lands that surround Delta County are designated for oil and gas development -- that's nearly 900,000 acres.
• With an estimated 1,271 wells, at a minimum that's a footprint of 6,355 pieces of heavy industrial equipment, which relegates the area to a single use, not to mention the 24/7 noise, air pollution, and water contamination risks. The scale could be even larger due to horizontal drilling and multi-well drilling technologies now available and yet to be discovered.
• An average of 2300 truck trips per well would result in 2.9 million truck trips on our single lane rural roads, not to mention new roads that would need to be built to accommodate this scale of development.
• Every producing wellpad generally consists of 5 pieces of above ground equipment: 1) wellheads, 2) separation units, 3) tanks, 4) combustors and 5) remote telemetry unit. In addition, underground piping interconnects this equipment and sends the gas into gathering pipelines (which are unregulated) and on to sales pipelines.
How is this consistent with the county's goals as noted above?
There is no place for backdoor zoning in Delta County. Any support for oil and gas leasing plans in the draft RMP is a vote for heavy industrial zoning. A no-oil and gas-leasing alternative is the only way to prevent the BLM (an unelected federal administrative agency) from turning Delta County into a heavily industrialized oil and gas sacrifice zone. It is also the only way for Delta County to successfully implement the Better City recommendations on economic development.
By the way, how is the county supposed to pay for all the road damage, increase in law enforcement and public health costs associated with the entry of large scale oil and gas operations into a community? Is this another back door to increasing taxes?
On Dec. 4 Delta County Commissioners Doug Atchley, Mark Roeber and Don Suppes denied the application of Paonia Holdings, LLC for a change of land use for the property at 41322 Highway 133, with an adjacent residence at 41402 Highway 133 and an ancillary property at 16180 Stevens Gulch Road.
The property is owned by Bowie Resources, LLC, and was formerly used as a coal load-out site.