Funds OK’d for Battlement Mesa drilling study

GLENWOOD SPRINGS — Garfield County commissioners Tuesday unanimously agreed to spend up to $257,000 on studies on potential health impacts of planned drilling in the Battlement Mesa subdivision.

Commissioners are hoping to offset some of the costs if the county receives a grant from the Health Impact Project, a collaboration of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Pew Charitable Trusts. The Health Impact Project has expressed an interest in the Battlement Mesa studies, and the county has asked for a $150,000 grant.

However, commissioners decided they can’t afford to wait up to six weeks for an answer about the grant before proceeding with the initial study. Called a health-impact assessment, it will make use of existing data to make recommendations about how to best safeguard health when Antero Resources seeks to drill up to 200 natural gas wells in the community of about 5,000 people.

Antero is expected to formally propose the project soon to the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and to Garfield County.

The county is pursuing a second study that would be done for several years to monitor possible health-related effects from gas development. The county is working with the Colorado School of Public Health on the studies.

The county first agreed in October to look into the idea of health studies after more than 400 Battlement Mesa residents signed a petition requesting them.

Few health-impact assessments have been conducted in the United States, and health officials expect the Garfield County study to be looked at elsewhere in Colorado and in other states.

“Garfield County needs to be a leader in something like this,” Commissioner Mike Samson said.


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