Letter opposes Chamber and Club 20 stance on shale
Some businesses concerned about impacts of industry
Some local business owners unaffiliated with the Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce are striking back at what they say is a stance by the Chamber and Club 20 that could put jobs and water resources at risk.
The group of businesses is made up of ranchers, growers, rafting outfitters, and a local outerwear company, sent a letter to the Chamber and Club 20 Thursday... expressing concern over their recent comments regarding oil shale development.
The comments by the two organizations were in opposition to a decision by the BLM to cut the amount of public land available for oil shale development in the area by 90-percent. That area had been initially set at 2 million acres in parts of Utah, Wyoming, and here in Colorado, but has since been slashed dramatically.
While the Chamber hopes to keep those millions of acres available for development and job creation, the businesses supporting the BLM's decision worry what impacts keeping all of that land open to development might have.
"They plan to and have the rights to use a considerable amount of water from the Colorado River," said Seth Anderson of Loki Outerwear, "which would negatively impact the recreation industry for the river and tourism. Just the mere stigma could impact our agribusiness."
Betsy Bair, with the Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce explained, "We know that water could potentially be an issue, but each site, as it's developed, or potentially developed, will have its own E-I-S, which is an environmental impact statement done. And at that time water will be handled, socio-economic issues will be handled, and we don't want the potential to kill jobs and to hurt our economy before it ever happens."
Effectively, the Chamber says they want to leave open the possibility for oil shale development, and are concerned that limiting the amount of acreage could limit economic growth as well.
One of the chief concerns the businesses are voicing is water usage. In their letter, they state that commercial oil shale development could eventually use as much water as is needed to supply a city 30 times the size of Grand Junction.
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