Sen. Penry tries to calm fears about drilling

BATTLEMENT MESA — State Senate Minority Leader Josh Penry said Monday that he expects Antero Resources to engage in a “good-faith give-and-take” with Battlement Mesa residents to minimize the effects of oil and gas drilling it is planning there.

Penry, a Grand Junction Republican whose Senate district includes Battlement Mesa, told Battlement Mesa residents he has talked with Antero about the company’s plans to drill as many 200 wells there.

“They said they want to work with the community. I think we should take them at their word. Let’s sit down; let’s drive a hard bargain,” he said.

Meeting with about 60 residents, Penry also talked about the recently concluded legislative session and efforts to obtain funding for a west Parachute Interstate 70 interchange.

But in their questions, residents focused almost entirely on the drilling plans, which caught them off guard when Antero announced them last month.

Homeowners in the unincorporated development of about 5,500 people, many of them
retirees, continued to voice concerns Monday over the drilling. They worry that Antero will drive down property values and endanger their health and quality of life.

“They need to be held accountable so that we can live a normal life if we have to put up with drilling,” Burk Wynkoop said.

Penry urged residents to take a methodical approach to work through the issues and ensure Antero minimizes its impacts.

“I’m happy to continue to be part of those conversations … and make sure that you get a fair hearing in this conversation,” Penry said.

Responding to a resident’s hopes that the drilling might be stopped, Penry said, “Under the law there is a mineral right that attaches certain rights, and one of those rights is access to it. And we are a country that needs energy.”

He also said decisions to prevent all drilling in areas such as Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge have consequences elsewhere in the country.

“When you add it all up, when you take those significant resources off the table you increase pressure to drill everywhere else,” he said.

Antero official Kevin Kilstrom said in an interview that the company has received a “fair number of comments” from people concerned about the drilling.

“We think we’ve done a tremendous amount of work over almost the last two years to anticipate most of the impacts and prepare steps to mitigate those impacts,” he said.

Antero plans to drill two wells beneath the development this year.

Kilstrom said the company recently decided to drill them directionally from adjacent lands rather than from within the development.


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