Routt County oil, gas meeting shows differing approaches

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— Routt County’s oil and gas working group made quick work of its chores Wednesday, but the night’s discussion brought out the differing approaches some longtime residents and industry representatives would bring to regulating energy exploration here.

The working group needed less than two hours to plow through the task of making final comments on a list of 23 conditions that could be added to the list of standards applied to oil drilling permit applications. The Routt County Board of Commissioners will begin to analyze them in a work session at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday.

However, the theme that emerged from the night’s roundtable was the desire of some working group members to gain the cooperation of energy companies in affording extra protection to the county’s natural resources. Industry representatives on the panel wondered out loud why Routt County would go beyond what they say are already well-established state regulations enforced by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.

“Treat Routt County — see what we’re all about and see what we can do,” said Paul Stettner, of the Community Alliance of the Yampa Valley. “If you can ease the impact, that’s what we’re trying to get done.”

Steve Lindsey, senior director of governmental affairs and community relations for Quicksilver Resources, which has drilled one well in western Routt County and is pursuing several more, told the group that strong regulations are in his company’s best interests.

“Our desire is to have as robust a set of regulatory (provisions) as we can because it helps us as an operator,” Lindsey said.

And when it came to submitting comments on proposed conditions dealing with everything from managing visual impacts to the permissible density of well heads within a finite drilling area, Lindsey pointed out that state regulations already cover those areas.

“It gets into a fundamental question of, if the state has purview over setting density (for example), does the county even have any” standing in the matter, Lindsey said.

“The answer is ‘yes,’” former County Commissioner Ben Beall replied. “We don’t want impacts to our wetlands, to our floodplains, and somehow, we’ve got to get there.”

Sarah Jones, of the Yampa Valley Sustainability Council, urged the commissioners to think about the impacts of energy development in the county in time should the exploratory efforts of 2012 blossom into a full-blown production scenario.

“It’s Routt County’s job to look at long-term impacts and take those into account. It’s our responsibility to look at what’s being protected cumulatively well after well after well,” Jones said.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com

Comments

trump_suit 2 years, 11 months ago

"Differing Approaches" As in one side wants environmental protections and guarantees and the other side wants to be completely un-regulated? Let me guess who is on which side......................

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Steve Lewis 2 years, 11 months ago

The BCC's Oil and Gas committee's comments are now in this BCC packet:

http://www.co.routt.co.us/commissioners/pdfs/2012%20Agendas/January/Jan%209%2010%202012.pdf

The committee's 46 pages begin on the 29th page of this packet.

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Steve Lewis 2 years, 11 months ago

The comments are all inclusive. Contributors are on the committee, but left as anonymous. The format organizes comments into the outline of current regs. At the end an "Additional suggested conditions" section adds broader comments.

This comment, in that latter section, page 41, is what Routt should follow:

  1. Hydraulic Fracturing Conditions: If the Planning Commission decides not to require a separate SUP for Hydraulic Fracturing, I recommend the following Condition to address HF specifically:

b. IntheSUPapplication,thepermitteewillprovidedetailsonthe proposed HF process, including but not limited to: type of HF process (for example water-based or gelled LPG), names of chemicals (or Brand names) and estimated volumes of chemicals to be used, type and volume of proppant to be used, estimated volume of water/gelled LPG to be used, and any construction or safety requirements specific to HF activities.

c. Notification to LGD 72 hours before start of HF.

d. Permitteewillreport,onawell-by-wellbasis,thechemicalsusedinthe HF process to FracFocus.org.

e. Permittee will prepare a section, within the Waste Minimization and Management Plan, that specifically discusses how waste generated from HF will be minimized, recycled, treated, contained, managed, transported, and disposed.

f. Permittee will provide a Water Availability Assessment as part of the Approved Project Plan describing the quantity and source of water used in the HF process.

g. If holding ponds (pits) are built for HF water (water to be used in HF process not produced water), fencing and netting requirements described in Specific Condition 6 would apply.

h. If non potable water is used for HF water and stored in holding ponds, the liner requirements described in Specific Condition 6 would apply.

i. Water-based HF will only use “Green” HF fluid. “Green” is defined as chemicals used in the HF process that are biodegradable, non-toxic, neutral pH, residual free, non-corrosive, non-polluting, and nonhazardous in the forms and concentrations being used.

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Steve Lewis 2 years, 11 months ago

This one also:

  1. LPG and/or butane gas fracking is prohibited

"Comment: This process is in the experimental stages in the US and has absolutely no regulations in place. The recent updates to the COGCC rules mandating disclosure of chemicals used in fracking apply only to hydraulic fracking, not this. The industry has disclosed nothing about what chemicals are added to the gas to turn it into a gel, what process are in place to recover the LPG/butane or what extra safety measures are used. Moreover none of the local fire departments have been appraised of what it would take to clean up a major LPG/butane gel spill or any of the associated hazards."

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Steve Lewis 2 years, 11 months ago

This document is a good start. Thanks to the members of this committee for your work on behalf of Routt County.

I'll add my own comment: Some jurisdictions allow wells such as these to be used as depositories for pollutants:

http://www.npr.org/2012/01/05/144694550/man-made-quakes-blame-fracking-and-drilling

"... a brine injection well owned by Northstar Disposal Services LLC is seen in Youngstown on Jan. 4. The company has halted operations at the well, which disposes of brine used in gas and oil drilling..."

We should not allow Routt wells to be pollution depositories. Put that comment in bold for those who would allow "proprietary secret" fracking formulas to be injected in Routt.

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sedgemo 2 years, 11 months ago

Thanks, Lewi, for posting. I still think it should be possible to enforce a moratorium on NEW permits, while we let the ones in process move carefully forward. We could all benefit from that sort of approach.

From the article you posted:

One way to avoid creating earthquakes is not to inject fracking wastewater into waste wells, but to recycle it instead. The state of Pennsylvania tried that, but they found that wastewater treatment plants couldn't get all of the toxic material out of fracking water, and the "cleaned up" water returned to rivers wasn't clean enough. So well operators in the state decided to ship wastewater to Ohio, where it has been going down into wells.

It may be we need language added that will require successful management of waste products, but ALSO stipulate the wastes from wells not in Routt County are NOT ALLOWED to be deposited here in any form.

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