Some fine ideas offered
What should be done with the $371,000 that EnCana Oil & Gas was fined for drilling violations?Last month, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission fined EnCana for its part in creating a natural gas seep south of Silt this past spring. The fine money is to be applied to a public project or projects related to local drilling impacts. The Garfield County Energy Advisory Board made its recommendations for project finalists to the Garfield County Board of County Commissioners at the commissioners’ meeting Tuesday. Thirteen members of the EAB met to narrow the project entries from 39 submissions to seven before giving its recommendations to the board (see box). County manager Ed Green attended the EAB’s meeting in place of the vacationing Doug Dennison, Garfield County’s oil and gas auditor. Green said the EAB used four criteria to thin out the entries.Eligible submissions needed to:• be beneficial to the environment or public health, or public safety and health;• address impacts from the oil and gas industry;• be a stand-alone project, not requiring additional money beyond the $371,000 fine;• not be related to the ongoing investigation of EnCana’s violations. Green said the EAB assessed each project proposal on a graded scale from zero to 10 by applying the above criteria. Many of the 39 projects did not meet the criteria, including requests by the United Way of Garfield County to fund human service projects and the Science Outreach Center to subsidize tuition for children’s science courses. “We should have made that criteria clear to applicants,” said Commissioner Trési Houpt. Entry information available on the Garfield County Web site did not list the specific standards required of submissions. Commissioner Larry McCown said commissioners will review the seven finalists and make their decision on how the EnCana fine money should be distributed by Monday, Sept. 13. The COGCC will take up the commissioners’ recommendations for its final decision on which project or projects the money will fund at its Sept. 20 meeting. Contact Carrie Click: 945-8515, ext. email@example.com to sevenThe Garfield County Energy Advisory Board recommended to the Garfield County Commissioners the following seven public project proposals for spending the $371,000 EnCana violation fine:• West Divide field wastewater project – Groundwater mitigation to provide the re-use of water from gas drilling applications. ($20,000)• Hydrological characterization study – A full assessment on the impacts of drilling on groundwater. ($300,000 over two years)• Community health risk analysis – An assessment of health risks to the public as a result of oil and gas activity impacts on air and water. ($65,000 over 18 months)• Soil Conservation Service’s weed cost share project – Providing grant funds for landowners in the Divide Creek and Dry Hollow area in fighting weed infestation (particularly Russian knapweed) caused in part by oil and gas activity. ($50,000 over two years)• Colorado Mountain Club’s energy forum – Providing information on energy and land issues, and material for local school curriculum. ($15,000)• Well site restoration – Restoration of five well pads ($120,000 over three months)• Hazmat equipment and training – Provide for technical rescue operations ($370,000; can use partial funding)• Hazmat equipment and training – Provide for technical rescue operations ($370,000; can use partial funding)
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