Garfield Co. sends input to state gas board | AspenTimes.com

Garfield Co. sends input to state gas board

Phillip Yates
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” Garfield County officials sent a letter to the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) on Wednesday, offering insight and input as the commission drafts new rules for oil and gas development in Colorado.

Judy Jordan, the county oil and gas liaison, drafted the letter and said that she was pleased that the COGCC allowed the county, which is in the midst of a natural gas boom, to be involved in drafting of the new oil and gas rules.

In their letter, commissioners supported proposals to encourage use of technologies to control noise and odors, and to create a new permitting process that would require consultation from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the Division of Wildlife.

The letter also called on the COGCC to help local governments with air, health and environmental studies.

“I am pleased COGCC has given us prime position in terms of commenting early on in this process,” Jordan said. “COGCC has identified some stakeholder groups that it wanted to be involved in the process early. We have had a chance to be involved early on, which I am really happy about.”

The COGCC has issued a pre-draft rulemaking proposal for rules COGCC may initiate as it moves forward with implementing House bills 1298 and 1341, which the state Legislature passed earlier this year. The bills direct the COGCC and the Colorado Wildlife Commission to take into consideration costs and technical difficulties as the COGCC establishes standards for “minimizing adverse impacts to wildlife resources affected by oil and gas operations.”

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As the COGCC continues drafting its rules, it will accept written and electronic comment on the proposal – which is available at http://www.cogcc.state.co.us – through Jan. 31. A public meeting on the new rules will be held from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Jan. 3 at the Battlement Mesa Activity Center, 0398 Arroyo Drive, in Parachute. Adoption of the final rules is expected by July 1.

Commissioners, in their letter concerning the new rules, supported a proposed approval process for locating oil and gas facilities, which would “require a new permit” called a Form 34, the proposed rules said. The permit would require gas and oil operators to address impacts on “public welfare and wildlife” from multiple wells in a single location. It would also enable the COGCC, along with the CDPHE and the DOW, to address effects of oil and gas facilities.

Proposed rules also call for a comprehensive development plan, which could contain information on a much larger scale than the Form 34 process, such as an oil and gas company’s anticipated development in a 10-square-mile area over a five-year period, according to the proposed rules.

“The cumulative effects of intensive oil and gas development, as have been occurring in Garfield County, are significant and cannot be adequately assessed or addressed on a well-by-well basis,” the commissioners’ letter about the proposed rules said. “The submission by operators of Comprehensive Development Plans (CDPs) would help to provide a basis for assessing such impacts. In fact, we have been considering potential programs to work with industry to encourage area-wide planning ourselves.”

The new draft rules could have a large impact on Garfield County, Jordan said.

“It could turn everything 180 degrees,” Jordan said. “It is a very significant proposal they have out right now.”

Garfield County Commissioner Larry McCown said the letter was the commissioners’ effort to give the COGCC “a few little items of input” as the state agency moves forward with its rule-making process.

“There is some tweaking that needs to happen,” McCown said of the current proposed draft.

County Commissioner Tresi Houpt recused herself from discussion of the letter during the commissioners’ meeting last Monday because she is a member of the COGCC.