Oak Meadows residents alarmed about gas drilling | PostIndependent.com

Oak Meadows residents alarmed about gas drilling

John Colson
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Illustration courtesy of Thompson Divide CoalitionThis map depicts the Four Mile Creek area. The brown boxes at lower left represent SG Interests gas leases. The area shaded in green is national forest land, while the areas shaded in brown are BLM land.

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – Alarm is spreading among the residents of the Oak Meadows subdivision along Four Mile Road with the news that a natural gas lease is located on the western edge of their neighborhood.

One resident, Betty Delaney, has been walking the subdivision for weeks to alert her neighbors to the issue.

And the president of the Oak Meadows Service Co. has sent letters to federal officials opposing a gas drilling unitization proposal by Houston-based SG Interests.

Delaney said Oak Meadows residents began learning about the potential gas drilling activity at a Feb. 8 meeting hosted by the Thompson Divide Coalition, a Carbondale organization.

At that meeting, coalition representatives distributed a map showing the location of gas leases in the Thompson Divide area, which includes the Four Mile area south of Glenwood Springs.

SG Interests has sought approval from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to unitize a group of 18 gas leases in the Lake Ridge Unit.

The proposed unit stretches in a long rectangle across 32,000 acres, from the ridge just west of the Oak Meadows subdivision on Four Mile to the upper reaches of Coal Basin, west of Redstone.

Unitization would allow the company to develop one producing well in the area in order to secure future development of all the leases in the unit. As it is, most of the leases are set to expire in 2013.

The Oak Meadows Service Co. board, which provides water and sewer services to the subdivision, is worried that drilling could pollute the subdivision’s water supply, according to the letter it sent to the BLM.

Jeff Houpt, a local attorney and president of the Oak Meadows Service Co., sent the Post Independent a copy of the letter, which also calls on the BLM to deny SG Interests’ unitization request.

The Oak Meadows water supply comes largely from two springs “literally within feet of the boundary of the Lake Ridge Unit,” the letter states. “The residents of Oak Meadows cannot afford to jeopardize this essential source of drinking water.”

The letter expresses concern that drilling and hydraulic fracturing of the underground gas deposits “could result in irreversible pollution of [Oak Meadows’] sole sources of potable water.”

Houpt said he also sent a personal letter, as an Oak Meadows homeowner, asking the same thing.

The BLM has not ruled on the unitization request, and has not said when it might issue the ruling.

Meanwhile, Delaney has been hanging packets of information on doors around Oak Meadows for weeks.

She noted that SG Interests also holds a lease in Four Mile Park, near Sunlight Mountain Resort and her favorite backcountry ski touring site, Williams Peak.

“I just skied up Williams today,” she said on Wednesday. “Every time I’m up there now, I really appreciate it, because I don’t know whether the next time I look down into Four Mile Park I’ll see something I don’t want to see.”

Delaney said she has been talking to Oak Meadows residents, too.

“Half of the people went, ‘Huh?’ They had no idea this was there. They didn’t like it,” she said.

“I’m amazed at how the people in Glenwood were oblivious,” she said, to the possibility of gas drilling nearby.

“I was oblivious,” she said.


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