DE BEQUE, Colo. (AP) — Hundreds of natural gas workers, contractors and their supporters say the Bureau of Land Management should not change dozens of energy leases it is reviewing, The Daily Sentinel reported Friday.

The pro-lease crowd attended a meeting the BLM called in De Beque as part of its review of 65 oil and gas leases on land in the White River National Forest. The majority of the leases are in Mesa County, with others in Garfield, Pitkin and Rio Blanco counties.

Thursday’s meeting followed sessions in Glenwood Springs, Carbondale and Aspen, where the agency overwhelmingly heard opposition to the leases, particularly 25 in the Thompson Divide area southwest of Glenwood Springs. The De Beque meeting was scheduled after questions were raised about whether the BLM had heard from people in areas more supportive of drilling and close to many of the plots with leases under review.

The BLM said the review, necessary because of a failure to do an environmental analysis or adopt the Forest Service’s analysis before the leases were issued, could lead to leases being canceled, modified or left untouched.

Bradly Apple of Grand Junction, who works for the energy company Encana, went to De Beque Thursday with his wife and children. He said he worried that if the BLM can cancel some companies’ leases, it can do the same in the case of all companies.

“Then we’ll all be out of a job,” he said.

Many speakers Thursday challenged comments heard at the earlier meetings that oil and gas development poses a health threat. Speakers Thursday also suggested that an elite class in and around Aspen is threatening working-class jobs. Rio Blanco County Commissioner Shawn Bolton said ski resorts also depend on energy.

(© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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