Peter Shelton

Yard Sale

Posted in Gas Pains, Watch columns by pshelton on October 17, 2009

In 2005 we learned that the mineral rights beneath our home were about to be sold to the highest bidder. I wrote this column after the auction at Bureau of Land Management headquarters in Denver.

Seven fifty-eight am. Bureau of Land Management State Office in Lakewood, Colorado. Two faded fiberglass Bambis cavort beside a closed-loop brook that emerges from behind the glass front doors. Inside, the brook burbles antiseptically. “They ought to put fish in there,” says a man in unscuffed cowboy boots. We’re early. Other bidders, some in western gear and some crossing their soft, Italian loafers, idle in line. In the awkward silence I flip a penny into the water, thinking about fountains and luck. It is the only foreign object, the only shiny thing in the dim hallway.

I am here at the quarterly BLM mineral lease auction to defend our Montrose County neighborhood. Or a portion of it, if I can. Three of the six property owners in our parcel have decided to pool what money we can afford and try to buy the lease ourselves. Try, in other words, to tie up the mineral rights for the ten-year life of the lease in order to prevent some oil-and-gas company from coming in and having its way with us. (more…)