by Bill Knowles
WALSENBURG- Members of the Citizens for Huerfano County staged their second protest Monday morning, Aug. 22 outside the county courthouse. Preparations for the arraignment of the Doughertys prevented the CHC from using the grassy area around the building due to security concerns by local law enforcement.
The second protest drew the same number of participants as the first, about 10, but it also drew more acknowledgment from passing traffic then the previous gathering on Thursday, Aug. 11.
CHC is protesting the way the county, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and Shell have acted in the permitting process and their failure to notify the public or hold a public comment period prior to permit approval for drilling.
A press release from the BLM is indicating that at least 13 parcels will be put up for bid in Huerfano County totaling nearly 8,000 acres. The parcels are located near and La Veta Pass. Some are east of La Veta in the general area that surrounds property where Petroglyph operated. Other parcels are located in the Gardner area and an area about 10 miles west of Walsenburg.
A lease is the first step for a company or individual before eventually applying to develop and produce oil and gas from the BLM-managed public mineral estate.
Lease holders would have to go through the process of permitting, along with additional planning, environmental analysis and public input before drilling can begin.
Vanessa Delgado, a spokesperson with the BLM, said that the announcement for the lease bid sales of the parcels has just been announced and no bids have been taken or leases signed. “The BLM has released an environmental assessment for public comment regarding proposed leases for its quarterly oil and gas lease sale on February 9, 2012. And it is scheduling on-site public hearings for the first time. This is something new. The BLM is working on the schedule and will be announcing the hearing dates and locations later in the year. Huerfano County will be on the schedule,” Delgado said.
On August 11, the BLM announced that oil and gas lease sales for 2010 netted Colorado $229.4 million from royalties, rentals and bonus bid payments for all federal minerals, including oil, gas and coal.