Ursa pitch to GarCo: 55 natural gas wells in Battlement Mesa
GLENWOOD SPRINGS — Officials from Ursa Resources on Wednesday night described efforts to minimize the impacts of drilling another 55 natural gas wells within the community of Battlement Mesa, while opponents worried that the dangers of its proposal would be too great.
Garfield County’s Planning Commission considered Ursa’s proposal to undertake a second phase of drilling in the community on two additional pads. It already has been drilling more than 50 wells from two pads in the community of several thousand people.
The commission hadn’t begun deliberating on Ursa’s proposal as of 10:30 p.m. Wednesday night and had held out the possibility of continuing its hearing until another day before issuing a decision.
It did decide that county rules didn’t require that owners of mobile homes near one of the pads be notified of the hearing, because they aren’t land owners. Matt Sura, an attorney representing Battlement Concerned Citizens and the Grand Valley Citizens Alliance, had sought to have the hearing postponed to provide for that notification, noting that several of the mobile homes are less than 500 feet from one of the proposed pads.
“If anyone has a right or has a concern about what is being proposed here it’s going to be them,” Sura said.
One resident of the Tamarisk Village mobile home park who told the Daily Sentinel he lives perhaps 1,000 feet from the proposed pad spoke in favor of Ursa’s proposal. Bradley Felps, who said he sells industrial supplies to the oil and gas industry, but not Ursa, praised Ursa’s proposal to include a wastewater injection well on one of the pads to reduce the need to truck away wastewater.
“To know that the trucking can be cut back makes me feel that much better,” he told the commission.
Ursa devoted considerable time to discussing its injection well proposal, arguing that it would pose little risk of causing earthquakes and is preferable to shipping wastewater for disposal.
“It’s a safe way to do it, it’s a more effective way to do it and it’s a less intrusive way to do it,” Ursa operations superintendent Matt Honeycutt said.
Battlement Mesa resident Bob Arrington reiterated his concerns about an injection well inducing an earthquake, and urged Ursa to pipe wastewater out of Battlement Mesa where it could be trucked away or disposed of in other injection wells.
Residents also voiced concerns about potential dangers from Ursa’s proposal to build the pad near the mobile home park up against a steep hillside below the park. They worried about the potential for rocks falling down the slope and damaging equipment on the pad or fires racing up the hill.
Dave Devanney, chair of Battlement Concerned Citizens, urged the commission to ask how many wells, pipelines, truck trips and other aspects of oil and gas development it takes to change a residential community into an industrial zone.
“That’s what the residents of Battlement Mesa are thinking about right now,” Devanney said.