Garfield County intervenes with state on well spacing

Garfield County commissioners will ask the state to consider the cumulative impacts to residents of a proposal to allow one natural gas well for every 10 acres north of Silt.

The commissioners voted 2-1 Tuesday to intervene with the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission on an application by Antero Resources for 10-acre well density for a square-mile section of Silt Mesa.

The decision followed several hours of public comment in which many Silt Mesa residents complained about fumes, noise and other impacts since Antero began drilling there, and they worry about impacts to come.

Sandy Pickard told county commissioners the state is conflicted in trying to regulate and promote oil and gas development.

“I think that right now you’re all that we have to represent the people in this room …” she said.

Other residents expressed support for Antero and for natural gas development as a source of jobs, energy, tax revenues and income for mineral owners.

“When I saw a rig go up in my backyard that was the happiest day in my life,” said Lauren Boebert.

She said she was speaking out “to fight for her husband’s job” and for an industry whose presence has resulted in construction of hospitals, schools, homes and businesses.

The state commission will consider Antero’s well density proposal Nov. 29. The proposal involves underground well densities that Antero would achieve using directional drilling from one well pad per 120 acres or more.

The state commission usually evaluates such proposals on technical grounds, and considers health, environmental and other impacts during permitting of pads and individual wells. But Garfield County’s oil and gas liaison, Judy Jordan, says the public has no ability at that stage to raise concerns about cumulative health, environmental and other impacts.

David Kubeczko reviews well-pad applications in the Rifle area for the state. He said Silt Mesa is considered a high-density residential area where special conditions will be imposed to limit odor, visual and other impacts.

County Commissioner Tresi Houpt said it’s important to consider potential air, water and other impacts at the well-density-review stage.

“I think that we heard today many compelling concerns about the type of activity that is planned to move into Silt Mesa,” she said.

Antero official Kevin Kilstrom told commissioners, “Antero has demonstrated our ability and our willingness to properly develop gas resources while working with the local population in Garfield County to mitigate impacts.”


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