Garfield County dismisses the notion of regulating ‘remote’ and ‘centralized’ gas-well frac’ing
Post Independent staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
RIFLE, Colorado – Garfield County officials this week dismissed the notion that they would consider regulating what are known as “remote” and “centralized” gas-well fracturing practices, which are seeing increased use in the oil and gas industry.
The idea was brought to the attention of the board of county commissioners on Jan. 18, at a meeting in Rifle, by planner Kathy Eastley.
Eastley, in a memo to the board, noted that the practice of centralized fracturing, or “frac’ing” as it is known, has different land-use impacts than more traditional kinds of frac’ing.
Hydraulic fracturing, or frac’ing, involves the injection of a specially formulated fluid at high pressure down wells, to crack open deep sandstone formations and promote the easier flow of natural gas to the surface.
With remote frac’ing, the procedure is conducted via pipelines from a site distant from the well pad itself. Centralized frac’ing, the procedure is performed on multiple well pads from one location.
The county has the authority to regulate some aspects of the gas industry, such as temporary employee housing facilities and other uses that are not directly involved in the drilling for or production of gas, Eastley noted.
And, she continued, “The significant volume of water and chemicals [used in centralized frac’ing] may result in traffic, air and water quality impacts, as well as impacts to adjacent properties through noise, vibration and odors.”
But, argued representatives of the industry, activities related to the drilling and pumping of gas are controlled by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission [COGCC].
And, said Williams Companies attorney Ann Lane, “Remote frac’ing is good for the county.” She maintained that the practice reduces the amount of land used, which she indicated is a popular outcome with land owners on whose property drilling takes place.
Other industry representatives said the whole point of remote fracturing is to reduce impacts from fracturing. Among other things, the BOCC was told, remote frac’ing eliminates the need for truck trips to each well pad to deliver more than 500,000 gallons of water per well.
Eastley said while truck traffic is reduced to each particular well site, water still must be delivered to the remote frac’ing site.
And, she said, the impacts of centralized operations can last for a long time.
Retired Rifle attorney and land owner John Savage, who has had considerable drilling activity on his property, told the BOCC, “We are very happy with the process. We don’t think the county has a real role to play in the permitting of these operations.”
County commissioners said they understand the benefits of remote frac’ing and see no need for the county to regulate the practice.
“I think there’s tremendous pluses to what we’re seeing with remote frac’ing,” said Commissioner Mike Samson.
Commissioner Tresi Houpt, who serves on the COGCC, said that with centralized frac’ing, “You’re really talking about more than one [gas well permit],” and she urged the industry to accept the fact that the county may seek a greater role in regulating such matters.
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