County files second motion for Antero drilling intervention
Post Independent staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Garfield County will be intervening in a second request for intensified gas drilling rights by Antero Resources this month, when county officials and others appear at a hearing before the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) on Jan. 13 in Denver.
The county attorney’s office filed the second motion for intervention on Dec. 22, following another filed on Dec. 3.
Both motions are aimed at convincing the COGCC to either reject Antero Resources’ plan for 10-acre drilling rights in the Silt Mesa/Peach Valley area, or require the gas drilling company to “mitigate all impacts addressed by the BOCC [Board of County Commissioners] evidence presented at the hearing,” according to the wording of the motion.
Antero has filed two requests for increased density of wells it plans to drill in the area, raising the density from the current level of one well per 40 acres to a new density of one well per 10 acres. The requests involve two sections of land south of the Grand Hogback where it borders Silt Mesa and Peach Valley – a 640-acre section on Silt Mesa, and a 625-acre parcel in the Slaughter Gulch area at the northern edge of Peach Valley.
Residents of the area are opposing the company’s requests, out of concerns touching on everything from increased heavy truck traffic on narrow country roads, to worries that the drilling activities pose a hazard to air and water quality in the region and, as a result, to the health of humans and animals living in the area.
Industry officials have long maintained that there is no proof that gas drilling activities pose a health hazard.
In addition, according to the industry, the “10-acre density,” as it is known, does not mean there will be a gas rig popping up every 10 acres, but refers to “down-hole” well density. Because drilling technology now permits operators to drill multiple wells from a single well pad, the increased well density will take place below the ground, the industry maintains.
The county’s intervention, however, maintains that drilling can have “severe” impacts on “public health, safety and welfare,” and that neither the COGCC nor Antero have taken measures sufficient to safeguard the public’s welfare.
The hearings for the two Antero requests are to be conducted on the same day, and the COGCC’s hearing officer, Dave Neslin, has ruled that at least one of the hearings will take no more than two hours – one hour each for Antero and the county.
The county has included a list of some three dozen witnesses, including scientists and other experts as well as residents of the area.
Deputy county attorney Cassie Coleman, who is handling the county’s intervention, has said that some of those whose names are on the list may not get a chance to testify.
Antero, also, has submitted a lengthy list of witnesses for at least one of the hearings.
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