Ursa postpones plans for natural gas pad near Parachute high school | PostIndependent.com

Ursa postpones plans for natural gas pad near Parachute high school

For the time being, Ursa Resources will not pursue permits to move forward with a controversial proposal to drill a natural gas well pad within 700 feet of Parachute’s Grand Valley High School.

In a letter to Garfield School District 16 and Garfield County Wednesday, the operator stated its intent not to pursue permits for the pad so that Ursa can have more time to plan the “absolute best project” it can. The letter framed the decision as more of a postponement than a final decision.

“We do not have a definitive timeframe for pursuing permits at the aforementioned location, but will certainly keep you informed when that changes,” reads the letter, which was signed by Don Simpson, Ursa’s vice president of business development.

Simpson credited the early communication with stakeholders, which was required under new state rules, as the reasons for Ursa’s decision.

In June Garfield County commissioners unanimously agreed to participate in a consultation process, making it the first local government to officially commit to participating in the process created by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission in January, the Post Independent previously reported.

“Our meetings, communications and site visits throughout the last month are clear evidence that Colorado’s new rules for improving stakeholder communication and coordination are working precisely as designed,” Simpson wrote in his letter.

Following the initial news of the proposal, residents voiced strong objection to Ursa’s plan for a well pad so close to the high school. The distance between oil and gas developments and schools has been an controversial issue elsewhere in Colorado.

Ursa, which recently received approval from the state for two well pads in Battlement Mesa, expressed optimism and a desire to continue conversations on the proposed pad in the letter Wednesday.

“We are extremely proud of our team in Garfield County, which we consider the best in the Piceance Basin and are confident that they will use this additional time to consider all of our operational options and design a project that works best for all of our stakeholders,” Simpson wrote.

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