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Garfield County Board of Commissioners vows to keep its promise

John Colson
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

Residents of the Silt Mesa neighborhood were assured that Garfield County leaders will hold to their promises to intervene in a proposal to intensify the drilling of gas wells in that area, despite a looming change in the political makeup of the Board of County Commissioners.

Silt Mesa resident Dave Pegg reminded the board of its decision in November to mount a formal intervention concerning Antero Resources’ request to the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC). Antero is seeking permission to drill one well per 10 acres, rather than the existing ratio of one well per 160 acres.

Pegg also noted that the COGCC will consider Antero’s request on Jan. 14, “three days after commissioner-elect Tom Jankovsky is sworn in to replace [outgoing Commissioner Tresi] Houpt.” Houpt, he pointed out, was “one of the two ‘yes’ votes for intervention.”



Pegg was asking that the commissioners “reaffirm their Nov. 9 resolution” to intervene, and that “the intervention will be carried out in the same spirit – i.e. backed by the same strength of political will – in which it was originally conceived.”

Jankovsky, a Republican, defeated Houpt, a Democrat, in the Nov. 2 general election for Houpt’s seat on the board. Houpt also serves as the local liaison on the COGCC until she steps down in January. Her successor has yet to be named.



Houpt was noted for being politically to the left of the others on the board, John Martin and Mike Samson, and for periodically taking a more critical position than the other two concerning oil and gas activities in Garfield County.

Jankovsky, during last year’s campaign, made it quite clear that he will be a pro-business commissioner whose main priority will be to do whatever he can to create jobs.

Referring to the Nov. 9 resolution, Pegg declared, “It must not be watered down,” implying a concern that Jankovsky would tilt the board against intervention.

Commissioner Martin, who cast the sole vote against the intervention, told Pegg that the matter could be brought up again only by Samson, because he voted in favor of it.

Samson gave no indication that he might bring the matter up for reconsideration.

He recalled that he voted in favor of intervention because of pleas from “a multiplicity of people” with concerns about water contamination from drilling, and about getting a fair shake from their state government.

Beyond all that, Martin said, the county’s position on the issue is already a matter of record, locally as well as in correspondence with the COGCC.

Pegg also asked the commissioners to ask the nine members of the COGCC to come to Garfield County and tour Silt Mesa, which has been characterized by the COGCC as not so heavily populated as to qualify as a “high density” area.

Martin noted that the COGCC has held meetings in Garfield County in the recent past, though he was not able to say conclusively that any COGCC board member other than Houpt had ever seen Silt Mesa.

Lastly, Pegg asked that the county commissioners ask the COGCC to hold the Jan. 14 meeting in Garfield County.

He argued that it would be an “undue hardship” if “hundreds of residents of Garfield County” with an interest in the issue are forced to travel to Denver, where the meeting is scheduled to be held.

The board voted unanimously to request that the COGCC hold its January meeting in Garfield County, and that some or all of the commission members visit this area to view Silt Mesa firsthand for themselves.

jcolson@postindependent.com


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