Board backs drilling plan
The Garfield County Commissioners have backed a plan by Presco to drill within a half-mile buffer zone around the Project Rulison underground nuclear explosion site.Presco has applied to the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission for a waiver of its rule prohibiting natural gas drilling within a half-mile of the site. Presco wants to drill from the surface within the buffer zone, but the bottom of the hole would be outside the zone.COGCC ruled in February 2004 that Presco could not drill within the buffer zone without approval from the U.S. Department of Energy because of concerns about potential residual radioactive contamination. Presco had filed a request with the COGCC to increase drilling density to 40 acres on the surface and 10 acres underground, which would put it within the 500-acre buffer zone.Garfield County notified the COGCC in March that it would file a motion to intervene to block the increased density. It has hired expert witnesses to evaluate Presco’s drilling plans for Project Rulison.The county commissioners also considered taking Presco to court over the issue but have held off on that tack pending a COGCC hearing in July where Presco’s request for a waiver of the half-mile buffer will be heard. The meeting is expected to be held somewhere in Garfield County rather than in Denver, where the COGCC usually meets.On Monday, the county commissioners signed a letter to the COGCC supporting Presco’s request. Commissioner Trési Houpt opposed the plan although she conceded to signing the letter because it was a majority decision by the board.”There isn’t anyone on the board who wants to see drilling in the half-mile zone. But this (supporting Presco’s request) is one way to sit down at the table and talk to them, about what would be the safeguards,” said Commissioner John Martin.”Clearly, I don’t support the letter. There are better ways to sit down at the table and hold them to the buffer zone,” Houpt said.Commissioner Larry McCown was absent from Monday’s commissioners meeting because he is vacationing in Mexico.Contact Donna Gray: 945-8515, ext. email@example.com
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