Buying back coal bed methane leases right thing to do in Homer

Posted: Monday, December 15, 2003

Property owners in the Homer area need to know just how much we lost due to improper notification of the coal bed methane leases in our area. By not knowing and not being able to comment, we lost the opportunity for the Division of Oil and Gas to hear how our community feels about these leases and the right for an administrative review that likely would have had these leases withdrawn.

Here is the decision that was made by the director of the Division of Oil and Gas in response to the protests from Talkeetna residents:

"A lease will not be awarded for ADL 389390. Between August, 2000, and May, 2001, Division staff met and corresponded with the Talkeetna Community Council and residents of the area on several occasions and became convinced that the majority of residents were opposed to a shallow natural gas lease overlying the community. Geologists from two agencies ... independently reported that this prospective lease would be of only marginal interest for the commercial production of coal bed methane and that the area is estimated to have low potential. Generally the state would encourage the evaluation of even marginal prospects. However, considering the marginal permissive geology of the area, the low probability of a commercial discovery of shallow natural gas, and the perceived negative impacts to the local area and its residents, I have concluded that, in this case, community concerns outweigh the probability of significant benefits to the State."

Keep in mind that Bill Popp, the Kenai Peninsula Borough oil and gas liaison, and some other state officials have even stated that the leases in the Homer area are marginally, economically viable for coal bed methane development because of the scattered isolation of the tracts. Given the overwhelming opposition to these leases in the Homer area and the fact that Homer residents did not receive their due process and lost their appeal rights, buying back these leases is the right thing to do.

Write the governor and our state representatives to tell them a buyback is our last resort!

bNina Faust, Homer/b

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