County commissioners in Garfield and Rio Blanco counties—the center of the natural-gas rich Piceance Basin—told state officials at recent meetings that new state regulations have slowed development of natural gas there, reports the Glenwood Springs Independent.
“We’re at a slowdown on the Western Slope … at a time when we should be seeing an uptick,” said Tom Jankovsky, a Garfield County commissioner.
The Piceance Basin was the center of fossil fuel extraction early in the 21st century when natural gas prices hit $14.5 per million Btu in 2008 Then came the success of hydraulic fracturing, boosting yields of oil and natural gas. Prices of natural gas plummeted to $2 and even less. Drilling all but stopped in the Piceance Basin. Now, of course, they are rising again—if nowhere near the prices of 13 years ago.
The Piceance Basin natural gas deposits are located in deeper formations and hence are more expensive to extract.
The newspaper also reports a dispute about whether the public was properly barred from joining members of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission on an educational tour in Garfield County.
The Colorado attorney general’s office ruled the meeting didn’t have to be public because it was educational in nature and was on private property. Nonsense, says Steve Zansberg, an attorney who is president of the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition.