Steamboat Springs Uneasy about the fact the Routt County Board of Commissioners is in the midst of revising the conditions of approval for oil and gas drilling permits, the Routt County Planning Commission voted unanimously Thursday night to table Quicksilver Resource’s request for a permit to drill on the Camilletti and Sons ranch a mile north of Milner and U.S. Highway 40 west of Steamboat.
“The quality of life in this county is very much based on the public’s faith in the public process,” Planning Commission member John Ayer said. “I want to make sure that if we approve this, we have adequate mitigations that will pose the highest confidence level (that drilling) impacts will be compensated for. Right now, I don’t have faith and confidence the mitigations we have in front of us can instill that confidence.”
With the Board of Commissioners expected to complete its review of a slate of possible changes to the county’s conditions, which can be applied to drilling permits by Feb. 21, Ayer said he preferred to wait, and his colleagues agreed.
“We can’t vote on something we know is changing,” Planning Commission member Wayne Adamo said. “How can we approve something until our county lawyer looks at it? Let’s find out what we can and can’t say before we say it.”
The Planning Commission tabled Quicksilver’s application until March 1.
The 9-0 vote didn’t come until after nearly 3 1/2 hours of presentations by Quicksilver representative Stephen Lindsey and comments from members of the public.
Lindsey, Quicksilver’s senior director of government affairs and community relations, began by giving a detailed presentation about the Camilletti proposal, as well as an overview of exploratory drilling.
“Steamboat truly is a remarkable area,” Lindsey said. “We’ve heard the questions, concerns, worries and hope about oil and gas exploration in Routt County, and it has resonated. We recognize the concerns and comments of the Community Alliance (of the Yampa Valley). Quicksilver would like to note it will comply with all federal and state regulations and best practices to minimize the impacts of its operations.”
Representatives of the Community Alliance presented Lindsey and Planning Commission members with a list of 13 conditions they hope Quicksilver will agree to impose on itself.
The conditions range from agreeing to require contract truckers accessing the well pad to use ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel to offering assurances that the flame produced by flaring non-salable natural gas coming out of the well would not be visible from buildings or land beyond the site.
“We are not attempting to interpret Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission rules here,” the Community Alliance’s Rodger Steen wrote in a statement. “We are establishing a set of expectations for oil and gas companies to go beyond (Conservation Commission) rules in the best interest of Routt County.”
He also observed that the list was developed in consultation with representatives of Quicksilver’s competitor in the region, Shell Oil, which he said had agreed to the conditions. Shell’s Matt Holman acknowledged that was the case after the meeting.
A number of the people who packed the Routt County Courthouse hearing room called on the county to look further into the societal impacts that could be posed by an oil boom here.
“I’m going to recommend that you table this tonight,” former County Commissioner Ben Beall said. “How can you as a board approve or deny this without seeing the final conditions? I’ve realized I’ve had my head in the sand. Routt County has had its head in the sand, too. What are the community impacts on schools, social services, the fire department?”
Proposed site of Camilletti well
To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com