COGCC to open Rifle office |

COGCC to open Rifle office

Phillip YatesPost Independent Staff

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission announced on Thursday that it will open an office in Rifle later this month.The news came during a quarterly Northwest Colorado Oil and Gas Forum meeting that drew a standing-room-only crowd inside a meeting room at the Garfield County Fairgrounds in Rifle.James Adkins, northwest area engineer for the COGCC, told the crowd that the new office will be located inside the Community Banks of Colorado building, 707 Wapiti Ave., in Rifle and is expected to open Dec. 20.Adkins said an immediate benefit of opening the office in Rifle is to offer residents and companies working in the area a quicker response and reaction from the commission’s resources. COGCC staff had been working on establishing the Rifle office for the last six months, he said.The office’s opening comes as COGCC statistics show that Garfield County registered the most oil and gas drilling annual permits in the state this year. As of Dec. 3, 2,321 permits were issued in Garfield County, a 25-percent increase from 2006 and a 54-percent jump increase from 2005. “You are one of the busiest areas,” said Dave Neslin, acting director of the COGCC, of the area’s burgeoning energy sector. “Certainly this is one of the epicenters.”Neslin also had copies of a memorandum about proposed rules COGCC may initiate as it moves forward with implementing House Bills 1298 and 1341, which the state Legislature passed earlier this year. The bills direct the COGCC and the Colorado Wildlife Commission to take into consideration costs and technical difficulties as it establishes standards for “minimizing adverse impacts to wildlife resources affected by oil and gas operations,” according to the memo. Adoption of the final rules is expected by July 1.As the COGCC continues drafting its rules, it will accept written and electronic comment on the proposal through Jan. 31, the memo said. It is expected to be on the COGCC website next week and was distributed at the meeting to develop public comment during the rule-making process, Neslin said.During the meeting, the COGCC said that there had been 27 complaints related to oil and gas drilling in the region since the last forum was held. Three complaints were registered in Mesa County, one came in Routt County, while the rest occurred in Garfield County.In Garfield County, there were 29 complaints directed toward the county’s Oil and Gas Department in the last three months, according to Wendy Swan, an administrative assistant who spoke for the Garfield County Oil and Gas Department during the meeting. Some of the numbers that Garfield County recorded were also registered by the COGCC, Swan said. According to the department, which serves as a liaison between residents and the energy industry, 23 of the complaints were related to odor, three were tied to environmental concerns, one was related to a traffic issue, one concerned dust and another was about a reported improper disposal of produced water.Swan said the department wanted to reiterate that it is the point agency if any Garfield County residents have any concerns about energy-related matters, and that they should contact the office at 625-5691 (which is not an emergency line). If staff cannot resolve the matter, they will forward it on to the COGCC, Swan said. If residents have any immediate company concerns, they can find contact information at Phillip Yates: (970)

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