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January 23, 2009 11:16 PM UTC

Fraccing in the 'Voice of the Western Slope'?

  • by: ClubTwitty

(What? An organization that is just a tool of the Oil & Gas Industry? Nahhhhh….. – promoted by Colorado Pols)

Club 20 bills itself as the “Voice of the Western Slope” but criticisms of the organization have of late been charging that it’s not what it claims.  In December Gunnison County voted to drop it’s membership, noting that:

The structure of Club 20, allowing governmental members and individual members one vote, fundamentally dilutes the mission of the Western Slope advocacy group, Gunnison County has written in a letter explaining why it is leaving the organization.

“Governments are accountable to their citizens,” according to the letter, which Club 20 received this week. “Individuals who can simply buy their way onto your organization’s board are not.”

The commissioners voted to draft and send the letter during a Dec. 15 special session.

Now San Miguel County has dropped out along with Archuleta and San Juan Counties, the Telluride Daily Planet   is reporting.  


Club 20 maintains that it is

…broader and more diverse than at any time in history, and still growing each year.


Not so charge those leaving the organization, according to the Daily Planet article:

San Miguel County commissioners opted to sit the year out of the organization, which represents a flourish of voices from the Western Slope at the state level on pressing issues from water to mineral developments.

Commissioners said the group no longer represents the interests of progressive counties and is little more than an extension of the feasting oil and gas industry. They plan to send a letter to Club 20 outlining their concerns in the coming weeks.

Other counties have recently dropped out, too: Archuleta, San Juan and Gunnison counties have pulled out, according to commissioners.

Commissioner Art Goodtimes said the Club was “dismissive,” “non collaborative” and that the organization had “failed to represent our viewpoint.”

“They don’t want to open Club 20 up,” Goodtimes said on Thursday. “They’re afraid the progressives are going to take over.”

“You can’t have the voice of the Western Slope be one voice, one industry,” he said.

Originally formed to represent the interests of the 20 counties on Colorado’s Western Slope, in the last few months 20% of those counties have left the organization.  

Reviewing notes from its Energy Subcommittee Club 20 16 boasts of the ‘diverse interests’ that comprise the organization’s policy-making on energy.  

Chair of the subcommitte is Dave Cesark of Delta Petroleum.  He also chairs an ‘advisory panel’ on that committee where, among the other nine members, are representatives of Gunnison Energy Corporation/Oxbow Mining, BP America, the La Plata County Energy Council, Inc., EIS Solutions, and the Colorado Oil and Gas Association.  

Thus at least six of the panel’s nine members are directly affiliated with the oil and gas industries.  These members effectively shut down any dissenting voice, the Daily Planet article notes:

Joan May, another [San Miguel] county commissioner, said the group failed to even note minority voices in reports outside of the club’s main stance – it became simple majority rule. “We don’t agree on everything – that should be stated,” May said. “If this is supposed to be the voice of the Western Slope, there’s got to be diverse voices. … It’s not the red state that it used to be.”

Perhaps by a ‘diversity of interests’ Club 20 16 means that BOTH oil and gas are represented?


3 thoughts on “Fraccing in the ‘Voice of the Western Slope’?

  1. The critique is valid, and it shows a need is not being met.

    So what kind of entity or group of voices would be most appropriate to fill that need? A purely inter-governmental group operating under a clear statement of principles?  

    1. Club 20 16 is clearly needed to fill this void…

      About 1/3 of the 20 counties that were originally in Club 20 went Obama this year–and Garfield was within a handful of votes.  Unless Club 20 16 learns to truly reflect the reality of the politics and positions of the region it will become ever more irrelevant.

      Club 20 16’s director claims that it is simply not true that energy interests dominate the organizations, noting in a GJ Free Press article

      that [only] two people on the board have ties to the industry – one in coal and one in natural gas, Brown said.

      However, the organization’s website says that:

      The engines that drive CLUB 20 are the standing committees. Most Western Slope policy on key issues originates within one of the several committees, each with broad geographic representation. These committees include Agriculture, Business Affairs, Energy, Health Care, Higher Education, Natural Resources, Public Lands, Telecommunications, Tourism, Transportation and Water.  

      Chairs of the committees that most often determine energy policy (Natural Resources, Public Lands, and Energy) are:

      Marianna Raftoupolis (Natural Resources) with Julander Energy; Kathy Welt (Public Lands) with Gunnison Energy/Oxbow Mining; and Dave Cesark (Energy) with Delta Energy.  

    2. If the group is to express the wishes of the Western Slope, it would make sense to have a county commissioner from each county on its board.  Maybe they need some by-laws that would limit corporate participation (they could even limit NGO participation, too).  After all, if the citizens of a county change their views enough, they should have a Western Slope group that can follow those changes.

      Also, I would bet that Archuleta dropped out because of financial problems, not politics.  They have had huge problems with their budget for the last couple of years.  It’s a conservative county, though, so I doubt they have problems with Club 20’s policies.  The same could be said of San Juan County.

      thanks to ClubTwitty for the story.  I don’t usually see anything about Club 20 in the paper.  By the way, what are the annual dues?

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