Williams challenges GarCo authority on rock cuttings

Williams Production RMT is challenging the legality of Garfield County requiring it to haul away drilling cuttings from natural gas well pads it operates within the Battlement Mesa housing development.

The company believes the county requirement runs contrary to Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission rules allowing burial of the cuttings on site if they don’t exceed state standards for contaminants.

Williams contends state authority preempts county authority in the case.

“We think that (county) condition is inconsistent with COGCC regulations, and it imposes additional costs and responsibilities on us,” Williams spokeswoman Susan Alvillar said.

Alvillar said Williams raised the issue in a letter to the county. County attorney Don DeFord is scheduled to discuss the matter with county commissioners Monday and said he couldn’t comment before then.

DeFord said commissioners also will decide then whether to make the letter public.

County commissioners imposed the requirement in December while granting land-use permitting for two Williams well pads within Battlement Mesa.

The permit approvals rectified an oversight by energy companies and the county. Barrett Resources Corp., which Williams later purchased, began drilling on one of the sites in 1990.

Both sites now have wells on them.

After Antero Resources began pursuing plans last year to drill in Battlement Mesa, the county and Williams learned that county permits for well pads in the 5,000-person community were required under zoning approved for the development in 1982.

Cuttings consist of rock brought to the surface during drilling.

Commissioner Mike Samson said how the state reacts to the requirement for Williams could indicate whether the state would seek to preempt other requirements the county might want to impose on Antero when that company brings its Battlement Mesa drilling proposal to the county for review.

Commissioner Tresi Houpt, who also serves on the oil and gas commission, said at the time that she’s not anticipating pre-emption of local requirements being a problem under new oil and gas rules passed by the state commission.


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