GarCo, Antero settle Silt Mesa issue

A battle between Garfield County and Antero Resources over high-density natural gas development on Silt Mesa has been averted, at least for now.

County commissioners voted 3-0 Tuesday to accept a settlement offer by Antero and drop the county’s intervention with the state over applications by the company for 10-acre underground well spacing on two, square-mile sections in the Silt Mesa and Peach Valley areas.

In exchange, Antero is dropping those applications for the time being. However, it reserves the right to reapply for 10-acre well spacing in the Silt Mesa area in the future, and Garfield County can intervene again.

Antero’s applications had been scheduled for a hearing before the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission in April. The county contended in a legal filing that state rules fail to protect residents in the area from the cumulative air, water, traffic and other impacts of so many wells being drilled.

Under the settlement agreement, Antero will seek for the time being to drill no more than 16 wells from no more than four well pads in each of the square miles. It also commits to drill no closer than 500 feet from homes and to conduct meetings over the next 18 months aimed at addressing concerns about potential impacts.

“I think they’ve made some big concessions,” County Commissioner Mike Samson said Tuesday in moving to withdraw the intervention action he previously requested.

He said the main reason for the intervention, the spacing request, “has been taken care of for the time being.”

Some residents wanted the county to continue with its intervention because Antero hasn’t ruled out eventually seeking 10-acre spacing. Silt Mesa resident Brian Ellspermann told commissioners he hoped they would stand up on behalf of residents if the spacing request is renewed.

Commissioner John Martin said the discussions between residents and Antero will be important in the months to come.

Jon Black, Antero’s local operations manager, said in an interview that the company is looking forward to working with the community in developing a comprehensive drilling plan.


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