Garfield County to speak up on drilling plans

Garfield County plans to raise concerns with the state this month regarding natural gas well-spacing proposals in Battlement Mesa and the Garfield Creek State Wildlife Area near New Castle.

County commissioners last week agreed to intervene in applications by Antero Resources at Battlement Mesa and Dejour Energy (USA) Corp. at Garfield Creek. The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission plans to consider the applications Feb. 22.

The commission’s rules let local governments intervene in such applications to raise environmental, health, safety and welfare concerns.

Judy Jordan, the county’s oil and gas liaison, said the concern at Garfield Creek is the potential wildlife impacts of drilling. At Battlement Mesa, Antero’s proposal would allow for one well pad per 40 acres, which is more than is allowed in the development’s zoning, she said.

Antero last year unveiled plans to drill as many as 200 wells from 10 pads within the Battlement Mesa subdivision. The proposal has drawn objections from some residents concerned about possible health and other impacts. County attorney Don DeFord said the county’s intervention would allow for residents to comment on the applications as well.

Antero has yet to apply to the county for zoning approval for the project, as is required for any drilling in Battlement Mesa. It also plans to submit a comprehensive drilling plan to the state to allow for potential impacts to be addressed.

The two Antero well-spacing proposals to be considered next month each cover 320 acres, and Jordan said they include portions of Battlement Mesa. While the proposals also include the number of wells to be drilled in an area, Jordan said the issue for the county is how many pads are built on the surface to drill them.

The Dejour proposal also would allow one well pad per 40 acres. The Colorado Division of Wildlife owns the Garfield Creek wildlife area but not the underlying minerals, making it powerless to prevent recent drilling there.

Jordan said the Division of Wildlife and Dejour have been talking about how to place pads to minimize wildlife disturbance.


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