GarCo promotes more talks on drilling disputes

Garfield County commissioners are hoping more discussions can help resolve continuing disputes about proposed natural gas drilling that concerns residents in Battlement Mesa and on Silt Mesa.

Commissioners on Monday directed their oil and gas liaison, Judy Jordan, to meet with residents and industry to consider what the county can request to reduce the impacts of substantial planned drilling within a half-mile of Battlement Mesa.

In addition, commissioners hope continued discussions between Antero Resources and residents can result in agreement that can enable them to drop their intervention with the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission over Antero’s proposals for 10-acre underground well spacing for parts of Silt Mesa and Peach Valley.

At Battlement Mesa, Antero is proposing to drill up to 200 wells within the community. Meanwhile, Antero, EnCana Oil & Gas (USA) and Williams have proposed new well pads outside but near Battlement Mesa.

Commissioners already plan to request a hearing should the state issue permits on three Antero pads outside the community.

Now some residents want the county to ask the state to defer action on EnCana’s proposal until a health impact study on Antero’s proposed Battlement Mesa drilling can be completed.

Dave Devanney, of the Battlement Concerned Citizens group, said 200 wells already exist or have been approved for drilling within a half-mile of Battlement Mesa, and another 238 are proposed.

County Commissioner Tom Jankovsky questioned the county’s ability to seek a hearing for every proposed pad where such wells would be drilled.

David Ludlam, executive director of the West Slope Colorado Oil and Gas Association, said the county instead should take advantage of its opportunity under state rules to have Jordan comment on specific well pad proposals.

Commissioners instructed Jordan to gather input regarding what conditions of approval she might ask the state to impose for those pads.

Commissioners on Monday also declined to immediately accept Antero’s offer to suspend its 10-acre well spacing requests near Silt if the county drops its intervention, which is scheduled for a state hearing in April. The county wants to get legal advice and hear the outcome of discussions Antero plans to have with residents Wednesday.

Antero official Kevin Kilstrom on Monday responded to concerns previously raised by Beth Strudley, who says her well water smells like rotten eggs and her son has suffered from rashes and other ailments since Antero drilled near her Silt Mesa home. Kilstrom said subsequent state testing of her well has found no impacts from oil and gas development.


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