By Bruce Finley The Denver Post – 8/24/2012
FAIRPLAY — The federal Bureau of Land Management is preparing to open South Park — metro Denver’s main water source — to oil and gas drilling.
But Aurora Water, local authorities and conservationists are pushing back, demanding careful planning before any land is leased.
“Drilling responsibly. Is that an oxymoron?” asked Park County administrator Tom Eisenman, who says the BLM must at minimum do a detailed master plan before leasing parcels for drilling.
“It’s what we want. We want to preserve our environment, our water quality, our air quality, our wildlife corridors, our wildlife and fisheries,” Eisenman said. “Our economy is based on recreation.”
Aurora Water wants a 1-mile buffer around Spinney Reservoir, utility spokesman Greg Baker said.
“We’re concerned about surface contamination,” he said.
The leases being considered for early next year would allow drilling on 2,850 acres, including land within a half mile of Spinney, the large reservoir that holds water for Aurora.
BLM officials on Thursday said they will not conduct a master plan for leasing. Nor has the agency responded to concerns raised six months ago by Aurora Water.
The clash in South Park reflects widening tension around Colorado as communities raise concerns about energy development.
The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission both promotes and regulates oil and gas development using a streamlined and consistent set