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New Map Shows Oil And Gas Leases In Arapahoe County

Conservation Colorado
A map of leases (red), mineral rights (yellow), and schools (purple triangles) in Arapahoe County.

A Colorado environmental group is making data on energy leasing transparent – at least for residents of one county.

Conservation Colorado released a map showing where energy companies hold mineral rights and leases in Arapahoe County, which includes the town of Aurora, the third most populous city in the state.

This data is publicly available from the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and Arapahoe County court records. Such data is inaccessible to the average citizen due to the difficulty of going to courthouses to get lease information and navigating the commission's website, said Pete Maysmith, executive director of Conservation Colorado, on a conference call announcing the map's release.

"Information is power. We live in the 21st century. Taking this kind of information, mapping it on a website, mapping it out, imagine where you can click, link, find your house, find who owns the lease," said Maysmith.

The map also shows the location of schools. There are 11 schools in the county that are on top of oil and gas leases filed in 2010 or later.

Maysmith's group is looking into doing a similar map for Adams County, which will also be likely to experience future drilling. Such work, however, is labor intensive, which is why it is hard for the nonprofit to make available on a statewide basis.

Morgan Carroll (D-Aurora), the Colorado State Senate Majority Leader who was also on the conference call, said the state needs to do a better job of making such information available to residents. 

"Ideally I would like to see a much more user-friendly, community friendly interface for all of the data at the COGCC," said Carroll.

The presence of leases, which may have been granted in the past five years, does not mean drilling is imminent. Low oil prices are leading many companies to concentrate their efforts in high-profit basins and reduce their exploration in new areas.

The map "highlights the potential" for oil and gas drilling in the county, said Maysmith. The website also gives residents links to contact elected officials.

This post has been updated to reflect the fact that lease data came from the Arapahoe County courthouse, not the COGCC.

Stephanie Paige Ogburn has been reporting from Colorado for more than five years, primarily from the Western Slope.
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