Mesa County OKs energy master plan

Mesa County commissioners Tuesday culminated four years’ worth of work that was alternately praised and panned by adopting a plan that will guide energy development.

The board unanimously approved the Mineral and Energy Resources Master Plan, touting it as one of the few to be created by a local government in the United States.

The plan’s main components feature an inventory of the variety of energy resources in the county and an online tool that allows users to locate energy resources, existing and proposed energy-development facilities and areas that are sensitive to development.

Some citizens panned the plan in its early development as not having enough teeth and featuring more recommendations than requirements for the energy industry.

The plan requires companies to paint or camouflage its equipment to blend in with the landscape, screen their facilities against odors and visual impacts, use synthetic liners on fluid reserve pits, reclaim drilling sites, conduct water quality surveys and consult with the Colorado State Forest Service and the Division of Wildlife to mitigate wildfire and wildlife hazards.

The plan recommends but doesn’t require companies to, among other things, use closed-loop drilling techniques, trace fracturing fluids underground to ensure they don’t bleed into groundwater, drill multiple wells from a single pad, install pipelines for production liquids parallel to natural gas gathering lines and consolidate production facilities on one well pad.

“I think this plan certainly helps find that balance we’ve been striving for,” Commissioner Craig Meis said.

The plan cost a little more than $167,000 to put together, with a state energy-impact grant covering about $69,000 of the total, according to county spokeswoman Jessica Peterson.

In other business, commissioners unanimously voted to allow three landowners to back out of the Bookcliff Urban Services Public Improvement District and refund their $275 filing fee.

Sara Koetter and Jeff and Kathryn Bell, the owners of a 26.5-acre parcel at 696 33 Road, had appealed the decision by county planners to require them to submit a petition to be included in the taxing district as part of an application to subdivide the parcel.

Koetter told commissioners the plan to divide the land into two parcels of 3.3 acres and 23.2 acres is for estate planning purposes and not to develop the property. A house is located on the smaller of the two parcels, and Koetter said she can’t refinance the house if it’s part of one large parcel used for farming.

The district was formed two years ago to generate revenue to subsidize future growth in Clifton and Fruitvale.


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