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Plethora of questions await COGCC at Rifle meeting

John Colson
Post Independent staff
Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

RIFLE, Colorado – Residents from around western Garfield County are expected to show up today to confront members of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission with questions about everything from drilling rigs on Silt Mesa to concerns about a bungled pipeline project next to the Colorado River.

The COGCC is meeting today at Colorado Mountain College, adjacent to the Garfield County Airport, southeast of Rifle.

The meeting starts at 9 a.m. and the directors will discuss, among other things, a request by Antero Resources to increase the density of wells in Silt Mesa.



The item in question is on the “consent agenda” of the meeting, along with numerous other items.

The proposal was filed on Aug. 30 by Antero, and has been forwarded to the commission by COGCC staff with a recommendation for approval, given the fact that no objections to the proposal were voiced by the deadline of Oct. 6.



That means the COGCC members may simply pass it without discussion or comment, according to Dave Neslin, executive director of the COGCC office in Denver.

But in some cases, Neslin confirmed, members of the commission request that items scheduled for the consent agenda be pulled off and placed on the regular agenda for discussion.

According to the COGCC website, the request from Antero is to “establish an approximate 640-acre drilling and spacing unit” encompassing Silt Mesa, and to get the commission’s permission to drill one well per 10 acres within that unit.

That density of drilling has been granted in other portions of Garfield County.

In addition to well density on Silt Mesa, according to Leslie Robinson, a board member of the Grand Valley Citizens Alliance, area residents will be on hand to talk about a variety of topics.

“Specifically, BCC members [Battlement Concerned Citizens] will ask the COGCC to refer to the HIA [Health Impact Assessment, a recently completed study of Battlement Mesa] recommendations when [and if] Antero presents its Comprehensive Drilling Plan [CDP].”

Antero’s CDP will deal with a proposal to drill up to 200 gas wells within the boundaries of the Battlement Mesa community near Parachute.

The unincorporated subdivision is home to more than 5,000 people, many of them retirees. County officials say Antero is expected to submit formal plans for its Battlement Mesa drilling operations before the end of the year.

Another topic likely to come up is Antero’s performance in existing operations, such as an apparently botched pipeline project across the property of local developer Bob Regulski.

Regulski is fighting Antero in court over the project on his land, which sits at the confluence of the Colorado River and Divide Creek.

Regulski told the Post Independent that he will be at the meeting, and will submit a letter asking the COGCC to delay any decision on Antero’s 10-acre spacing proposal for at least 90 days.

“By waiting 90 days to take action, Antero will have the opportunity to prove that it will actually follow the laws of our state and make its operations safe,” Regulski reasoned in his letter, which was provided to the Post Independent.

Regulski also planned to invite the COGCC members to visit the site of the Antero pipeline, which was “red-tagged” earlier this year by Garfield County due to concerns about shoddy installation procedures that could threaten the pipeline’s integrity.

While the commission typically holds its monthly meetings in Denver, it also travels around the state to different remote locations periodically.

jcolson@postindependent.com


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