Landowner renews legal battle with Antero over pipeline work
GLENWOOD SPRINGS — A Garfield County landowner was back in court with Antero Resources Wednesday over renewed concerns about the quality of its pipeline construction.
Bob Regulski, who first questioned the integrity of the energy company’s pipelines in a lawsuit last year, now says poor construction of pipelines has prevented him from using an irrigation ditch serving his ranch between Silt and New Castle.
Regulski asked 9th Judicial District Court Judge Denise Lynch for a preliminary injunction that would have provided for immediate repairs to the ditch or required Antero to immediately present Regulski with a plan for addressing the problem. Regulski contends any delays will jeopardize his growing season.
“His land’s gonna die and it doesn’t have to,” said his attorney, Robert Couhig.
But Lynch rejected the request. She agreed with the argument of Antero attorney Christopher Coyle that any potential damages could be addressed through monetary compensation after the fact, and she ordered that Antero and Regulski engage in mediation.
In his suit against Antero last year, Regulski said Antero contractors went outside their easement, did a poor job compacting soil bedding beneath pipes and placed large boulders beside and on top of them, making it possible for them to rupture. Garfield County also issued a stop-work order because of safety concerns and lack of proper permits.
Antero followed up by suing Regulski to seek condemnation for its altered pipeline route. It said the alteration was needed for safety reasons.
Antero and Regulski settled those suits earlier this year. But meanwhile, Regulski has pushed the company to resolve a problem involving gas and produced water pipelines installed beneath and downhill from the ditch. Because of lack of proper subsurface support and soil compaction, the pipeline trench creates “an imminent and unacceptably increased danger of failure if the ditch should be turned on and water allowed to flow,” his new suit says.
Antero has begun work to reinstall the pipelines and restore the ditch, a process a company official says may take another five to six weeks. But Regulski argues the ditch should be restored before the pipeline work is done because his irrigation needs are immediate.
But Coyle told Lynch: “We have all of our permits in place. We are attempting to get this done. We are attempting to make gas, which serves the public interest.”
Antero also has been working to provide an alternative source of water by pumping it from the Colorado River, but Regulski contends the pump will be rendered inoperable by the coming high runoff.