10 Mountain Mayors send a strong letter to Americans for American Energy organization

December 17, 2007

MOUNTAIN MAYORS An Alliance for Cooperation & Action

December 14, 2007

Jim Sims & Greg Schnacke
Americans for American Energy
350 Indiana Street, Suite 640
Golden, CO 80401

Dear Mr. Sims and Mr. Schnacke,

We are writing to express our growing dismay over the misrepresentations promoted by Americans for American Energy in service of your industry’s effort to open the public lands on the Roan Plateau for irresponsible energy development.

Contrary to your statements to the public and the press, a broad and diverse group of western Coloradans are concerned about industry’s plans for drilling the only part of the Roan Plateau where your supporters have not already secured the right to drill, the portion that’s owned by the public. As elected officials, it is our responsibility to represent these citizens. They are not only our constituents, but also our friends and our neighbors. We share their concerns about the lack of balance between natural gas development and the need to protect the clean air, clean water and abundant wildlife that make our communities wonderful places to live.

We object in the strongest terms possible your repeated attempts to equate any questioning of your industry’s agenda to abetting terrorists. This is a scurrilous and irresponsible effort to muddy the waters and avoid discussion of the real issues and real values at stake.

As you well know, there has been overwhelming public support for protecting the public lands on the Roan Plateau. More than 74,000 comments were submitted during the comment period for the Roan Plateau Environmental Impact Statement asking for protection of the top and cliffs of the Roan and for responsible development of area that had already been leased.

In addition, a poll of 400 voters in the 3rd Congressional District this spring found that more than seven in 10 supported additional restrictions on oil and gas drilling. Just under half wanted drilling limited to existing sites near the base, with the upper plateau protected. Almost a quarter opposed any additional drilling. Almost seven in 10 hunters supported restrictions on drilling, as did three quarters of anglers, hikers and campers.

What most western Coloradans want is a balanced plan for the Roan Plateau that avoids the need for drilling on the public lands on top. For the health of our long-term economy, these lands must remain available for other uses such as hunting, fishing, camping, backpacking, mountain biking, wildlife viewing, scenic drives and encounters with solitude.

Oil and gas activity is booming all over Garfield County, with thousands of wells currently in production, about 1,000 new wells permitted each year, and tens of thousands of new wells expected to be drilled in the
next 20 years. Despite the huge area leased to your industry, less than 30 percent is in production. Your industry is sitting on an enormous backlog of drilling opportunities.

Meanwhile, directional drilling technology is rapidly advancing. Just a few years ago, your industry claimed that having to drill multiple directional wells from a single pad was burdensome and costly. Then, your industry realized directional drilling was cost-effective. It has since become the standard practice. Drillers’ ability to reach distant underground targets without compromising the land directly above continues to improve. Much of the gas under the Roan can already be reached with directional drilling. More of that gas will become available to directionally drilled wells in the future. That gas will also be more valuable in the future.

Yet judging from the email that Mr. Schnacke sent to your supporters in October, AAE appears not to care that industry could quite possibly access the gas under the Roan without destroying the public lands and wildlife habitat on top. Instead, your group appears to be motivated by a very narrow and self-serving principle: That no place is too special for your drilling rigs.

It appears to the Mayors of the Roaring Fork Valley and the Colorado River Valley that you have decided to make the sacrifice of the Roan Plateau an example of your political influence and the ruthlessness of your effort to secure every advantage for your industry supporters.

So you have mounted a smear campaign that insists anyone who suggests we balance our need for energy with our obligation to protect our communities is unpatriotic or interested in a “weaker America.” Gentlemen, this is not true and you know it. You should be ashamed of yourselves.

We mayors write to reject your efforts to misrepresent the truth.

Sincerely,

Roaring Fork & Colorado River Valley Mayors & Elected Officials (See Page 3 for signatures)

Keith Lambert – Mayor, City of Rifle
Frank Breslin – Mayor, Town of New Castle
Dave Moore - Mayor, Town of Silt
Roy McClung – Mayor, Town of Parachute
Bruce Christensen - Mayor, City of Glenwood Springs
Michael Hassig – Mayor, Town of Carbondale
Leroy Duroux – Mayor, Town of Basalt
Mick Ireland – Mayor, City of Aspen
Doug Mercatoris – Mayor, Town of Snowmass Village
Ken Brenner – Former City Council Member, Steamboat Springs

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