A new ad campaign by the Checks and Balances Project calls on county commissioners in Colorado and Utah to stop closed-door meetings with oil shale lobbyists on the taxpayer dime.

“The public business should be done in public. We launched today’s ad campaign to ‘Shine a Light’ on the backroom deals with oil shale companies like Red Leaf. We’re also calling on Uintah County to stop stonewalling and release all documents related to the meeting,” said Matthew Garrington, Co-Director of the Checks and Balances Project.

On March 27th, county officials from Colorado, Utah and Wyoming, and Utah state officials, participated in a closed-door meeting with oil shale lobbyists and executives in Vernal, Utah where a plan was developed to back a radical proposal to hand over two million acres of public lands to oil companies for oil shale speculation.

While Colorado Common Cause received 450 pages of documents related to the March 27th meeting via open records requests, Uintah County officials continue to refuse to release other documents associated with the meeting. In a petition accompanying the ad, the group is also calling on Uintah County to release all records related to the meeting and for Uintah and Garfield counties to rescind the resolution which was planned at the meeting.

“The county commissioners were elected to conduct county business with the people’s best interest in mind.  They need to stop meeting behind closed doors with oil shale lobbyists and, instead, meet in public to hear what the people want done,” said Sandy Hansen, a resident of Uintah County.

Clean Water Fund Colorado will also launch an on the ground petition drive in Garfield County this July. “The commissioners failed government 101. Shutting the public out of decisions about public lands isn’t how we do business in the West,” said Gary Wockner, Colorado Clean Water Fund’s Colorado Program Director.

The “Shine a Light” ad campaign will run on the websites of the following outlets:

  • Grand Junction TV stations: KREX, KKCO, and KJCT.
  • Colorado newspapers: Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, Glenwood Springs Post Independent, Rifle Citizen Telegram, and Grand Junction Free Press.
  • Utah newspapers: Desert News, Salt Lake Tribune, and Standard-Examiner.

Participation by Garfield County, Colorado has raised ethical and legal concerns because all three commissioners – John Martin, Mike Sampson and Tom Jankovsky – participated in the meeting.

Jankovsky originally characterized Uintah County as organizing the meeting and that he and the other commissioners attended for “informational reasons.” However, the released documents demonstrate that Jankovsky also helped organize the meeting and invited the National Oil Shale Association (NOSA) to participate.

To view the 450 pages of documents Colorado Common Cause received through open records requests, go to: http://www.commoncause.org/site/pp.asp?c=dkLNK1MQIwG&b=8124135.