A proposal by two energy companies to swap oil and gas leases in the Thompson Divide area south of Glenwood Springs for new leases in parts of Delta, Mesa, Gunnison and Rio Blanco counties is being met with optimism from conservation and industry groups alike.

But the Carbondale-based Thompson Divide Coalition and two North Fork Valley groups also want to make sure communities in the areas where the leasing rights would be transferred have a say in the pending negotiations.

“We do believe this is an important first step in a process that could result in the retirement or cancelation of leases in the Thompson Divide,” Zane Kessler, executive director for the TDC, told Garfield County commissioners Monday.

“If the industry’s proposal does move forward, it will be imperative that counties on the receiving end of this exchange and their constituents have a seat at the table,” Kessler said in a follow-up statement, repeating concerns he expressed to the commissioners.

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