The City of Grand Junction could become an oil and gas developer if the City wins leases on disputed parcels of the Grand Mesa lying within the City's watershed.
By a 5-2 vote in emergency session this morning, councilmembers authorized City Manager Kelly Arnold to contact a representative at the Lakewood, Colorado auction site and begin bidding on parcels totalling just more than 5,500 acres.
The parcels are within the watersheds of Grand Junction and Palisade, and have already been the subject of a protest filed by those cities.
If the City wins the leases they will be required by Federal Law to develop any minerals on those parcels within a decade. However, Councilwoman Teresa Coons said having control of those parcels would put the city "in the driver's seat" as to what restrictions on drilling could be enforced.
Mayor Bruce Hill voted against authorization, saying that the BLM already has sufficient safeguards to protect water quality. He also noted that purchasing and maintaining the leases would cost the City water fund money and would likely raise water rates for customers.
After approving entering the bid process the Council went into Executive Session to determine how much the City will pay for those leases. The session was closed to the public to protect from competitiorsa how much the City will bid on the parcels.