Oil and gas well proposed

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— A new oil and gas exploration well is proposed for a site east of Hayden, but county officials said this week that the Northwest Colorado drilling boom has yet to hit Routt County.

"We've been getting two or three (drilling permits) a year, and we're continuing to see two or three," Routt County Commissioner Doug Monger said. "We haven't seen the impact that Garfield County or Rio Blanco County has."

Routt County Planner John Eastman echoed Monger's sentiment, saying that although Routt County is home to several dozen active oil and gas drilling permits, the county is not seeing the surge in oil and gas exploration that has spread rampantly across Northwest Colorado. The growing industry was highlighted in the political arena this fall, when it was the subject of energy and conservation debates in numerous Colorado election races, including those for governor and Congress.

At a meeting Nov. 16, the Routt County Planning Commission reviewed an application from Comet Ridge USA - a branch of the Australia-based energy development company Comet Ridge - for a permit to drill on a 600-acre site about seven miles east of Hayden and less than a mile north of U.S. Highway 40. The site is less than a mile from the Yampa River and is accessed via a private road off the highway.

The commission recommended approval of the permit to the Routt County Board of Commissioners, who will review the permit for possible action Dec. 5.

Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak said Wednesday that the commissioners approved an agreement allowing Comet Ridge to begin work on a drilling pad at the site with the condition that Comet Ridge pay the $5,250 cost of site reclamation should drilling not occur.

"Just because we approved the agreement, that does not guarantee we'll approve the permit in two weeks," Stahoviak said.

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