Mountain mayor’s comments on oil shale

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Mountain Mayors

An Alliance for Cooperation & Action

September 22, 2008

As Mayors of communities in the Colorado and Roaring Fork River Valleys, we would like to express our hopes and concerns relating to Oil Shale research and development in our region. Although many of the views expressed in this joint letter have been shared at an individual or community level, we believe the potential scale of oil shale development warrants a united voice on the issue.  This letter builds on our joint resolution on energy issues that we and our respective boards adopted in 2007 (see Attachment A).

We fully recognize the critical role liquid fuels place in the national economy and its important role in the nation’s overall security. We also all recognize and appreciate the economic advantages of a strong energy sector. Indeed, many of our communities have directly benefited from current natural gas development over the last several years.

The benefits oil and gas development, however, are not without significant impacts on our community infrastructure, environment, and quality of life. As the recent gas boom in our area illustrates, without balanced regulation and sufficient revenue to the most impacted communities, local jurisdictions are quickly overwhelmed by the scale and pace of development. Road and highway intersections become bottlenecks, wastewater systems need to be upgraded, and schools need to expand. The impacts also extend beyond physical infrastructure to strain community networks. Affordable housing in the region quickly disappears making it difficult to retain and attract teachers, hospital workers, and safety officers at the very time the need for their services increases with population growth.  

The scale of the current oil and gas impacts and the prospect of even greater energy impact through the development of oil shale give us reason for concern.  Our region already has first-hand experience with the negative impacts of a “boom and bust” related to Oil Shale development in the early 1980s as well as the significant impacts created by rising energy prices today.  This experience shapes our perspective on energy development issues.  Consequently, the Mountain Mayors, encourage state and federal officials to consider the following guideline and course of action in relation to Oil Shale:

Oil shale development should be one component of a long-term, comprehensive Energy Plan that considers the costs and benefits of non-renewable fossil fuel energy production to the benefit of citizens beyond a short-term production boom. Such a plan would place equal, if not more, importance and investment in the development of renewable energy (solar, wind, hydro, biofuels) production and energy efficiency programs as fossil fuels.  We have yet to see such comprehensive energy plan or be involved in its creation despite the overwhelming need.

Leasing of public lands for Oil Shale should occur after research, development, and evaluation is complete.  The oil industry has been developing technologies to convert oil shale into liquid fuel for decades, but has yet to develop a commercially viable process.  There has also been little evaluation of the impact these technologies and processes will have on local communities or the regional air and water resources.  Technology is has proved to be the limiting factor to commercial oil shale development, not access to public lands.

There should be increased mitigation of the impacts related to Oil Shale development. A recent report commissioned by the Associated Governments of Western Colorado ( found that current energy development (natural gas) already strains local governments’ ability to provide important infrastructure needs, including emergency response, schools, and health facilities and that additional oil shale development would increase these demands.  Oil shale development plans should include a more comprehensive mitigation and funding process to ensure local communities can manage the resulting impacts.  

The people most affected by Oil Shale Development, the residents of Western Colorado communities, should have an ongoing and meaningful role in the decisionmaking on how and when oil shale is developed.  The communities and residents of Western Colorado are already shouldering a significant burden in regard to energy development.  Consequently, we believe, local elected board and citizens should have a voice in decisions of how energy development occurs.  

Our region is willing to do more for energy independence and national security, however, our efforts and the subsequent impacts should be part of a larger, more comprehensive plan that recognizes the realities of fossil fuel development and consumption and takes us further along the path toward creating new energy economy.

The Mountain Mayors understand the value and national importance of the natural resources that exist in Western Colorado and support responsible development.  However, we strongly urge that the preservation of the social, economic, and environmental values that sustain the quality of life in Western Colorado be integral to all decisions related to expanded energy development within our region.


The Mountain Mayors

View PDF version with signatures and attachment

P.O. Box 1582, Carbondale, CO 81623

Phone: 970.963.5502

17 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. ClubTwitty says:

    The Mountain Mayors rock!  (No pun intended).  They are, of course, proponents of a more balanced approach (than the BLM plan) to drilling the Roan, and most have been long-time supporters of protecting the public lands on top of the Plateau for the many traditional uses it already provides, for its unsurpassed habitat, and as a scenic backdrop to their communities.  But they also nail it on oil shale.

    Dave-you should promote Bob’s diary here.  

    Republicans–and Bob Schaffer–say they are for ‘local control’ but they generally fail when it conflicts with their cash constituents.  Sen Dullard Allard has been falsely claiming that local governments support fast-tracking oil shale.  While this puts the lie in Allierd, I doubt he’ll repent.

  2. bob ewegen says:

    Frank Breslin, Mayor, Town of New Castle

    Bruce Christensen, Mayor, City of Glenwood Springs

    Leroy Duroux, Mayor, Town of Basalt

    Michael Hassig, Mayor, Town of Carbondale

    Mick Ireland, Mayor, City of Aspen

    Keith Lambert, Mayor, City of Rifle

    Roy McClung, Mayor, Town of Parachute

    Doug Mercatoris, Mayor, Town of Snowmass Village

    Dave Moore, Mayor, Town of Silt

    Dale Rickstrew , Mayor, Town of De Beque

    The resolution is also approved by the city council of Grand Junction.

    • Jambalaya says:

      …Does GJ have a mayor?  If so, where is s/he?  And…is GJ in the mountains?

      • bob ewegen says:

        was not on the signature list I got from the mountain mayors but it did cite the approval by their city council. I assume GJ isn’t one of the members of the mountain mayors, organization but they wanted to endorse it because of the immense impact oil shale development wopuld have on their community.

        • Jambalaya says:

          ..I just think it’s odd that a bunch of mayors would deliberately emphasize that their resoluton received the support of the council, not the mayor, of one of the biggest cities in the area.  It seems to demand investigation into why the mayor of that city didn’t support the resolution.

          • bob ewegen says:

            You’re just being silly.

            • Jambalaya says:

              …but you don’t wonder what the GJ mayor thinks?  What happened to that journalistic fire that once raged inside of you?  Stoke that fire, dear!

              • ClubTwitty says:

                it doesn’t include Grand Junction, and no, GJ is not in the mountains, its in the desert actually.  

                The Mountain Mayors are the mayors in Garfield and Pitkin counties.  Basically the upper Grand and Roaring Fork Valleys.

                Again its a standing group with a certain set of mayors, those that Bob listed.  

                • Jambalaya says:

                  …but that still doesn’t answer my question why this MAYORS group mentioned the GJ council (not part of the group) while not mentioning the GJ mayor (also not a part of the group).

                  • ClubTwitty says:

                    they have a town administrator, but is not part of the Mountain Mayors.  

                    I don’t know where the GJ mayor stands on the issue and how he voted on any resolution, if there was one, but it is irrelevant here.  The group the Mountain Mayor has a set membership, and it doesn’t include GJ.

                    For someone who is so hung up on its v it’s, I’m not sure what’s so hard to understand here.

                    • Jambalaya says:

                      ..and then you had to throw in that last random zinger.  I agree that GJ may ordinarily be “irrelevant” here, but it’s the Mountain Mayors group which brought GJ into the conversation.  Remember, the Mayors brought irrelevant GJ into the issue?

                      Anyway, now that you’ve provided new information (i.e., that the GJ mayor is part of the council that supported the resolution), my curiosity is mostly sated.  So, I thank you anyway despite your efforts to be all cranky toward me.

                    • ClubTwitty says:

                      That’s when people start ignoring me, and I guess I don’t blame them.

                      It’s just that the Mountain Mayors is a standing group with a set membership, traditionally though they each sign their statements because they only send such out on things they all agree.

                      They often reference other bodies–associations, councils, etc.–but not the individual members of those bodies, because it is the bodies they are referencing.  

                      My point, poorly made, is that some things are clearly easy for some folks to understand.  Take the difference between it’s and its for example.  You provided a clear and well constructed rule, but to say that it’s an easy rule flies in the face of the widespread difficulty that many otherwise literate native English speakers have with it.  

                    • bob ewegen says:

                      and choking on the gnat. Get over it. Why don’t you read the damn statement and react to substance?  It’s as if you filed 50 posts after the Pearl Harbor attack and the only thing you discussed was whether Roosevelt’s term, “a day that will live in infamy” meant the 24 hour period from 1201 a.m. Dec. 7 to midnight or only the daylight hours between the attack and sunset.  Did you even READ the statement?

                    • Jambalaya says:

                      Yes, I read the statement and it didn’t answer my question.  Geez, why are you getting so hot and bothered over my inquiry into what the GJ mayor thought of the issue.  As I’ve tried to explain, the statement raised that question, so I wanted an answer.  If you don’t have the answer, fine; go along and be happy…let others provide info that you don’t have.  See how everyone can get along that way?

                    • bob ewegen says:

                      you launched a crusade. Oh, well, have a nice obsession.

                    • Jambalaya says:

                      …I damn-near died of windburn . . . but the troops were dazzled.

                    • bob ewegen says:

                      That would have been the day I overslept and was AWOL!  All I got out of that crusade was this lousy plenary indulgence.  

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