More time for comment on drill plan
Concerned residents in the Mesa area have gotten their wish for extra time to offer their thoughts on a proposal to drill five oil and gas wells near the community.
The Bureau of Land Management Wednesday said it is now asking that public comments be submitted to it by Jan. 18 on the proposal by Genesis Gas & Oil Colorado, LLC. It previously had asked for comments by Saturday.
Mesa-area resident Demi Garner said residents needed more of a chance to look into the issues surrounding the proposal in order to offer well-informed comments, rather than simply asking that no drilling or hydraulic fracturing occur in the area.
“Our big push right now is we want more time to educate ourselves,” Garner said, speaking before the BLM agreed to grant the additional time.
BLM spokesman Christopher Joyner said the timing of the initial comment period, which began just before Thanksgiving, wasn’t ideal.
The agency tries to accommodate requests for more comment time when it can, while keeping in mind the time constraints of a project, he said.
Genesis Vice President Bob Behner said the company had no problem with the comment period extension, which wouldn’t affect the drilling project time frame.
He said the company anticipates doing the drilling either this summer or next.
The company is proposing drilling wells from five separate pads as it begins evaluating the oil and gas potential on 27,000 acres of BLM leases it holds in the area.
Three of the pads would be southeast of Mesa and east of Colorado Highway 65, and the other two are southwest of Mesa and west of the highway.
One of the wells would be drilled not far from Garner’s home, and she’s concerned about potential groundwater and air quality impacts that might result.
She’s also worried about lack of awareness about the Genesis plans.
“A lot of people around here don’t even know this is going on,” she said.
Behner noted that Genesis has been working with the public and local communities on its drilling proposal for a number of years, particularly in the period shortly after leasing the acreage in 2006.
The result was creation of a plan to protect the municipal watersheds for Palisade and Grand Junction.
“We think we’ve got a good operating plan in place,” he said.