Residents air drilling concerns

RIFLE — Western Colorado residents told oil and gas regulators Thursday their revised rules still fall short of protecting people from drilling impacts.

The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission met Thursday in Rifle, where residents expressed concerns about the possible impacts of several new drilling projects and plans in Garfield and Mesa counties.

Residents say the new rules continue to result in neighbors not being notified of planned drilling, and they fear the drilling will result in air and water pollution and other impacts that have occurred elsewhere in the region.

“To be honest, most of these people didn’t have any idea of what was hitting them in the face, and now they know, and they’re not happy,” rural New Castle resident Tara Meixsell said of the drilling Antero Resources has begun north of Interstate 70 near Silt and New Castle.

Battlement Mesa residents want the state to heed a new study’s draft conclusions pointing to the possible health risks if Antero is allowed to drill up to 200 wells there.

“Please consider if those risks would be acceptable to you if you were a home-owner caught in the cross hairs of this project,” resident Doug Saxton told the commission.

Collbran resident Laura Amos moved with her family from Garfield County following drilling contamination of her water well there. She said she again is facing the threat of drilling, this time by Axia Energy, and she wasn’t promptly notified.

Grand Junction resident Marc Gubkin worries that Fram Operating’s proposed 492 wells near Grand Mesa could result in spills that threaten watersheds.

The oil and gas commission’s review of an Antero proposal for 10-acre well density on Silt Mesa was postponed Thursday until next month. Commission director Dave Neslin said such proposals deal with well density underground, and the commission considers environmental and health impacts later, when it receives permit applications for specific wells and pads.

Neslin said the new rules do a good job of protecting the public and the environment, and the state can impose specific drilling conditions “to try to address neighborhood concerns and minimize some of the effects on those neighbors.”

Antero official Kevin Kilstrom said in an interview the company regularly has informed the public of its plans in places like the Silt area.

“We’ve had multiple public meetings. We will continue to have them,” he said.


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