Landowners suggest surface-use agreements
SILT – In the best of all possible worlds, if natural gas companies agreed with the Silt Community Development Plan, landowners would have full control over where companies would drill, how they’d manage their activities and how they’d leave the land after completing their work.About 30 people banded together at the Silt Fire Station to flesh out the plan Saturday night.One of the suggestions was to require developers to file a thorough drilling plan. Surface landowners would have a say in clustering well pads where they would do the least amount of damage.”When we’ve asked for a drilling plan they say it’s proprietary information, but when they drill on BLM they have to give a drilling plan,” said Peggy Utesch, a member of the Grand Valley Citizens’ Alliance, which is helping organizers Liz Lippett and Christy Hamrick frame the plan.Surface-use agreements between developers and landowners could be required and would include stipulations for baseline domestic water testing, uniform mitigation measures for noise, lights and dust, and air quality monitoring. And surface owners would tell companies where they could locate access roads. Utesch pointed out that surface-use agreements between surface land owners and developers are not mandatory in Colorado.Flaring of natural gas wells, which burns off excess gas at the wellhead, could be prohibited. Hours of operation could also be set.A suggestion was made to require no less than 80-acre spacing between well pads. Current rules under the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission allow for 40-acre surface spacing of wells and 10-acre spacing at the bottom of well bores.Other suggestions included requiring the placement of pipelines along fencelines rather than across irrigated meadows, growth buffers around towns that would prohibit gas drilling, protection of wildlife migration corridors and breeding grounds and a plan for fire safety, prevention and response.”These are issues that will make or break families in a big way,” said Jaime Roark of Silt, in support of the plan.
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Roaring Fork School District Superintendent Rob Stein announced his resignation Friday, effective at the end of the school year, saying he will take “a personal sabbatical” next year.