Wolf Mountain builds access to new oil well before permit OK'd

Advertisement

Past Event

Quicksilver/Wolf Mountain oil well hearing

  • Tuesday, December 4, 2012, 5 p.m.
  • Routt County Courthouse, 522 Lincoln Ave., Steamboat Springs
  • All ages / Free

More

Oil & gas issues in Routt County

— When representatives of Quicksilver Resources appear before the Routt County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday night seeking approval for their plans to drill their newest oil well on Wolf Mountain, both groups will be confronted with an awkward fact.

Brent Romick, who represents Wolf Mountain Ranch owner Bob Waltrip, confirmed Friday that under his supervision, the new road to the proposed well up the lower flanks of the mountain, along with grading and excavation of the pad for the well known as Pirtlaw 32-09, already have been built. They were built in advance of final county approval of the special use permit needed to drill the well.

County planning staff wrote in its summary of recommendations this week that the commissioners need to “determine if this permit should be approved, approved conditionally, tabled or denied based on the existing non-compliance created by the property owner.”

Documents on file at the county reflect that Quicksilver Resources engineer Heather McLaughlin-Sloop has said her company didn't oversee the well pad work. However, county planning staff has suggested in a memo that the pre-approval construction still could pose a problem when it comes time to approve, table or deny a permit for the new well.

“Even though construction was conducted by the property owner, the special use permit is based on the application submitted by (Quicksilver) which included the access and well pad location and will fully benefit (Quicksilver) in any future operations at the site,” the staff memo reads.

The county’s Road and Bridge Department issued a stop work order for the road and well pad Nov. 21, but most of the work already was complete.

Romick oversees numerous conservation easements on the ranch that is a haven for wildlife where it overlooks Morgan Bottom from the north side of U.S. Highway 40 between Milner and Hayden, about 15 miles west of Steamboat Springs.

He said the construction was commenced to protect wildlife conservation easements in the area of the well pad, one for bald eagles roosting through the coldest days of winter and a second to protect the mating and breeding leks of grouse. He said the ranch would not condone requests for variances to the easements that could result from putting Quicksilver in a time squeeze.

“We will enforce these conservation values with utmost diligence,” Romick said. “We have to. The county needs to pay attention to windows on the wildlife restrictions, and they’re very stringent as far as we’re concerned.”

Romick said Routt County has failed to take into consideration the narrow window of time between the end of the bald eagle constraints and the beginning of the grouse constraints on that portion of the large ranch.

Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife Area Wildlife Manager Jim Haskins confirmed in a memo to Romick on Nov. 15 that a list of best management practices on conservation easements calls for no human disturbance within a half-mile of any active bald eagle winter roost site from Nov. 15 to Feb. 28, except for periodic visits.

Romick said Friday that the eagles already are roosting in trees near the well site, though Haskins wrote he is not aware that is the case.

Another rule discourages drilling activities near grouse leks between March 15 and July 31.

Romick said he thought it was urgent to get the road built and the well pad site prepared in advance of the eagles’ arrival in order for the well to be drilled between wildlife protection periods in the first two weeks of March 2013.

“It is impossible to construct the support road, oil location pad and drilling a period from March 1 to March 14,” Romick wrote in an Oct. 31 letter to County Manager Tom Sullivan.

He explained the urgency is heightened because Quicksilver needs to spud, or begin drilling the well, by spring to live up to the terms of its subsurface mineral rights lease with another company, Victor America. There is a second lease over the top of Quicksilver’s lease that is held by another exploration company that could step in if Quicksilver has not drilled the well, Romick said, and Quicksilver is Wolf Mountain’s preferred operator.

Adding a note of irony to the issue is the fact that after the County Planning Commission voted Oct. 18 to recommend approval of the special use permit for the Wolf Mountain well, another oil and gas operator approached the county requesting a process to allow construction of an access road and well pad before the final approval of the county commissioners, and Sullivan, working with the county legal department, reached an agreement to allow just that. Because the county staff anticipated that the same process might be desirable for Quicksilver with regard to Pirtlaw 32-09, it forwarded an agreement to Quicksilver on Nov. 8 to make them aware.

The response came back that Quicksilver was not in a position to use that process in this case but that the company would consider it in the future.

Click here to read the full county staff report on the Pirtlaw 32-09 oil well application as well as the communication from Wolf Mountain Ranch representative Brent Romick and owner Bob Waltrip.

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

Comments

mark hartless 1 year, 10 months ago

So you can't build a road on a ranch? That would probably come as a surprise to quite a few local ranchers.

Is it a "good" road as long as it has a tractor on it but then a "bad" road if it accomodates an oil rig?

The "window for road construction" is an interesting argument and a good example of how, oftimes, regulations and those who enforce them are indifferent to or ignorant of how timeliness plays a big part in business. Two old sayings: "strike while the iron is hot" & "make hay while the sun shines" are not old sayings for nothing. Sounds like the County realizes that preliminary road-building is necessary and reasonable so what's the big deal? Someones ring just didn;t get kissed is apparently the only real harm here.

0

Scott Wedel 1 year, 10 months ago

This is why people learn to hate government. To satisfy various conservation easements the property owner builds a road on his property while waiting for county approvals.

Who cares? If it wasn't approved then property owner would have a road to an expensive personal parking lot.

But someone county contrives a reason to care that road was built prior to approvals and now threaten to deny approvals because the road was built???

How about telling staff to take a hike and leave people alone? County admits it took meetings with their legal staff to allow another applicant to build a road while permit was in the approval process. And even that complicated process would not have worked in this case because it was the property owner, not the applicant, building the road.

County Commissioners should be apologizing to Brent Romick that the approval process for permits and roads is too complicated and thanking him for building the road during the window between conservation periods. And tell staff that they screwed this up and put the property owner in a difficult situation and if staff ever threatens someone's overall permit for properly done preparatory work again then staff will be reprimanded or terminated.

0

Stuart Orzach 1 year, 10 months ago

This is the second SUP application on which Quicksilver displayed negligence by failing to meet its contractual obligations. The first time, the County bent over backwards by granting an exemption from a wildlife condition. The County also scheduled a public hearing on the SUP application but did not provide proper legal public notice. The error was obvious to citizens who notified the County on the day of the scheduled hearing. The hearing was subsequently postponed.

0

Scott Wedel 1 year, 10 months ago

What did Quicksilver do wrong? They didn't build the road, the property owner did. Since when is a rancher prohibited from road construction on the property? Rancher should be congratulated for building the road during a gap between conservation easements.

And the second incident mentioned above,it is not Quicksilver's responsibility to provide notice of a public hearing. That is the county's responsibility. And the county failed to properly provide notice so a needed hearing had to be cancelled? Was that county staff sabotaging an application?

Given the article and Stuart's description of county failing to notice a meeting, I now see why the property rights group became active. The county's rules may not be that objectionable for property owners, but the county's administration of the permit process appears to be messed up. So the relative fairness of the rules becomes irrelevant when county staff takes advantage of technicalities in the approval process to abuse the property owner and the applicant.

0

Marian Marti 1 year, 10 months ago

Hold on here... This is Quicksilver's dilemma from the start. Quicksilver has a deadline coming up by which time it must finish the drilling at this site or a second company steps in and takes over the lease and according to information from Romick that time is now encroached upon by the wildlife constraints. This has absolutely nothing to do with the county process whatsoever; it lies directly with the application proposal and the date they started the process knowing full well that they are required to go through the permitting procedures of several state and federal agencies prior to going before the Board of County Commissioners. This entire process is quite detailed, lengthy, and time consuming. In this case, as well as the case with one of the other two wells of Quicksilver's in Wolf Mountain Ranch's Conservation Easement, Quicksilver did not plan adequately for the time it would take to complete each of these steps, in their totality, in a timely manner. (Refer to Stuart Orzach comment.) Just because the county is the last agency to hear an application proposal does not justify bad mouthing the county process because of Quicksilver's time constraint nor does it pardon Waltrip for authorizing the road building on behalf of Quicksilver.

0

Scott Wedel 1 year, 10 months ago

Since when is a rancher not allowed to build a road on the ranch? Just because it would be helpful to a drilling company does not mean it is no longer allowed.

The rancher has not claimed that because he built a road that now the county must approve the permit. Nor has Quicksilver demanded the approval process be short circuited or bypassed because of time constraints.

The only thing that has happened is that the rancher did what was within his rights which is to build a road adhering to conservation easements on his ranch.

Just because the applicant has time constraints does not mean it is fair or proper for government to delay the process so that the applicant' cannot meet deadlines.

0

Kevin Nerney 1 year, 10 months ago

Scott W you gotta be kidding. Are you really that naive to think the oil company didn't pay for that "ranchers road". I really don't give a rat's butt what happens on private property but now that I'm back in NY temporarily (working the hurricane damage) my cynicism is on high alert. Big money is always gonna get their way no matter what the law the city council or anyone else says.

0

rhys jones 1 year, 10 months ago

Sounds like somebody got inside word the permit will be approved (wink wink).

0

Brian Kotowski 1 year, 10 months ago

Robert L. Waltrip and Service Corporation International. Why bother looking into the financial resources of the rancher in question when childish naivete is so much easier. Waltrip could likely find the $ for that piddling little road in the cushions of one of his Gulfstream V's.

0

Mike Isaac 1 year, 10 months ago

Just what is the big deal anyway? The Rancher built a road while the weather is good, Im sure it is easier to do it now than wait till March 1. And why is the county putting these deadlines on this project? I think that drillers, road builders or frackers should be giving all the time they need to do the job right so mistakes are not made. I hope they hit the motherload and not take shortcuts due to stupid timelines. Shortcuts like these are the real threat to the water table not fracking.

0

Marian Marti 1 year, 10 months ago

The county has NOT put deadlines on this project. The Board of County Commissioners has NOT even heard this SUP proposal yet. The deadline is in the lease that Quicksilver has with the mineral rights owner and that is NOT the rancher; the rancher has the overlying surface rights.

0

mark hartless 1 year, 10 months ago

What law did the rach-owner break in the construction of a road? Somebody cite the violation... Anybody...???...

You people's hatred of business, progress, profit, initiative and even common sense blinds you to a fault. Although, ironically, you don't hate your light switches and gas pumps.

Mr Isaac is exactly right. Pressure from time-lines causes errors. The overwhelming theme from drilling opponents thus far has been a desire to avoid errors, spills, contamination, etc.

Here we have a guy who built a road on his ranch, something he can do if he pleases. (God Bless America) We have a road construction project that was implemented between black-out dates to accomodate wildlife. (so ranchers and oil companies actually DO care about the environment... surprise, surprise) We have an individual who was willing to incur the expense of that road project without any commitment from local government or the taxpayers or the oil company. Soundes like one hell-of-a risk taker to me. (so much for the idea of how risk-taking is rewarded)

And what do the opponents do? They assume they have a say in his ranch's road-building decisions. WRONG They accuse him of circumventing proceedures. WRONG They call him "big money" AS IF THAT'S A SIN They accuse a business (quicksilver) of building a road on a rancher's land. AS IF THAT'S WRONG OR ANYBODY'S BUSINESS.

This is more proof that the anti-oil/ anti-fossil lobby can not be satisfied. The biggest mistake the rest of us make is pretending to give a damn what these nuts think.

0

Mike Isaac 1 year, 10 months ago

Marian maybe the process should be streamlined and more time should be given on these projects so the drillers and frackers can do the job the right way with no mistakes. There is no reason this can't be done. This valley needs good paying jobs and the county needs tax $$$. Sooner or later they will hit it big and that oil will need to be trucked to a refinery or down to P Berg so it can be loaded on trains. Those are the jobs that can pay well over $60,000 a year and won't go away when the platform is taken down. Im sure the local tire shops and restaurants would like the extra business during mud seasons as would the local shuttle driver who could soon haul crude when the tourist are gone.

0

Steve Lewis 1 year, 10 months ago

From the packet for this hearing: "Due to the construction of the road and well pad without any permits from Routt County, the application, if approved, will not conform with accepted practices (COA #5 requires compliance with existing permitting processes). Even though construction was conducted by the property owner, the SUP is based on the application submitted by QRI which included the access and well pad location and will fully benefit QRI in any future operations at this site. It is not known if the construction is located as proposed by QRI and if it meets the standards that QRI has stated that they maintain. Routt County does not know who is the construction operator. According to McLaughlin-Sloop, the well pad was not overseen by QRI.

All required permits should be in place before issuance of the SUP and any fees associated with permits should be submitted. Routt County should confirm that the road and pad construction meets engineering standards and BMP requirement before any drilling commences."

It seems the rub for the County is maintaining control and oversight over the elements of an Oil and Gas SUP. Is the freedom of Ag Zoning a trump to that oversight? I don't think so. But Romick has a case for needed flexibility. The future solution for time frame issues will likely be something like the "Foundation Only" permit for ordinary construction projects in the County. You can do some permit parts early, and at your own risk that the full permit may fail.

0

Scott Wedel 1 year, 10 months ago

Steve, So county should have considered it as if the road did not exist. The applicant did not build the road. Thus, the applicant is making no claims that the road was built to the needed standards for heavy truck traffic or is in the correct location or followed the correct path. County is still free to use their rules to require proper access to the well pad and if that is different than what rancher built then tough luck for the rancher.

County should consider the application based upon the merits of the application, not what the property owner did. By the County's logic, any property owner could sabotage a drilling application by building a bad road and a bad pad. County: "Oh no, the newly built road and pad is unacceptable so permit denied". Property owner: "Yes, we don't own the mineral rights and yet we stopped them from drilling!".

If the property owner's road is not something the property owner was allowed to do then penalize him. Nothing I've heard suggests that a rancher is not allowed to build a road and a pad as he chooses. If permit is denied then he just built a nice place to park his equipment.

Only if the road builder was the applicant and the applicant is claiming the permit should be approved using the now existing road should the county care in the slightest how the road was built.

Personally, I think this sort of delay and problems with the county government JUSTIFIES and should be expected to ENCOURAGE future road building by property owners. Just next time the road and pad will be constructed PRIOR to submitting an application.

County needs to stop thinking that they are allowed to control where ranchers build roads on their property. County is allowed to have standards for roads to drilling pads, but that comes after the permit is issued and is an engineering standards issue, not a public policy issue.

County is overreaching and this sort of stuff is going to find the State and a wealthy property owner suing the County for improperly considering a drilling permit. If County causes Quicksilver to many delays and so loses the chance to drill then damages could be huge. And risking that to meddle with the property owner's right to build a road on his property?

0

Steve Lewis 1 year, 10 months ago

Scott, You put your finger on the problem of precedent. I don't know the solution at this site, but suggested the future solution above - "Road and Pad Only" permits allowed before the SUP. Owner risks that SUP will fail.

Consider for example SUP specs for the access road and pad would be compaction levels, roadbase material depths, etc. These are typically verified with inspection during construction. Some can only be done during, not after, material placement.

Should the County waive these verifications?

0

Scott Wedel 1 year, 10 months ago

Steve, Two different issues: 1) Ranchers appear to have the right to build roads and level areas on their property as long as they adhere to conservation easements and so on. So county has no right to question rancher's historical or recent road building activity when considering a driller's application.

2) An approved drilling permit has access requirements that includes a road. Thus, AFTER the drilling permit is approved then county should be expected to inspect the access road and drilling pad to verify they meet the standards set by the county.

For the county to consider an existing road, however recently built, during the drilling permit process adds undesirable complexity and is full of potential unexpected consequences. Such as trying to determine whether the property owner built the road to support or sabotage the drilling permit.

0

Steve Lewis 1 year, 10 months ago

Scott, The problem is that AFTER the pad and roads are constructed, full inspection is not possible. Particularly in the case of the well pad, the deeper compactions and materials in place cannot be verified.

15 years back I was called by the County to verify adequate footing placement for a condo building I had engineered. About 40 feet of the footing forms were being placed on faulty soil - i.e. organic topsoil. The plans required the excavation should have removed all organic soil and come back with compacted structural material to bear the building footing. This was subsequently done, but only because the County had inspected at the proper time. Blow past such inspections and much bigger problems are invited.

At the same job, I found the roof overhang at the gable was framed in a way I've never seen before or since. It would have failed, in my opinion. I had the choice of having them rip this off and follow the plans, but instead designed a system to mitigate their overhang. I had less confidence in the mitigation, but the demo seemed too rigid on my part. Luckily the roof overhang is a fairly peripheral piece of building structure.

It was an adversarial relationship. The contractor had to be forced to build properly.

Every 5 years or so I encounter a contractor like this one. My plan specs have grown because of them, to protect the interests of the owner and myself. 99% of builders are the professionals you expect. The 1% duds are why the codes are so strict.

It is one thing for Waltrip to call the County to discuss SUP changes in advance. It is another to make his changes unilaterally. Without question he was dealing with SUP elements. Now he is saying, "Trust me, I did it right."

I'm no expert on drilling, but well integrity likely relies on a stable drill rig and drill pad. If Waltrip did not remove the topsoils below, used bad material as fill, or poorly compacted the fills in the pad, the drill rig may settle or tilt. I expect this would induce stresses onto the well casing and affect the well integrity below. If the County's consultants have the same concern, the pad should be redone per SUP specs.

I take it as another matter that Quicksilver and its leaseholders have so little respect for the County’s interests. We did just have an election that established strong public support for the County's handling of these SUPs. It is troubling to see this divide.

0

Scott Wedel 1 year, 10 months ago

Steve,

It still makes no sense for county to worry about recently built roads when considering a drilling permit. It may be hard to properly inspect previously built rancher roads/pads and require significant deconstruction to rebuild it as a satisfactory drilling road/pad as specified by the drilling permit. So be it. That is how it should be.

Thus, if the road was built to help the drilling applicant then that effort could be largely wasted. So be it. That is how it should be.

Thus, if the road was built to sabotage the drilling application then that effort would be largely wasted. So be it. That is how it should be.

The central distinction between your story of poorly constructed buildings and a rancher building roads, is that ranchers do no need permits to build roads on their property. Thus, contractor mangling building construction is not relevant because that was supposed to be inspected as it was being constructed.

0

mark hartless 1 year, 10 months ago

If the county has enough staff to meddle in the road-building affairs of ranchers then perhaps some more lay-offs are in order?

0

Steve Lewis 1 year, 10 months ago

Scott, Ranchers do not need permits when building roads, pads, buildings for Ag Use. For other Uses, such as Commercial Use, I believe they also need the permits. Waltrip has an argument of timing for putting the roads in before the SUP. I expect the County would have accommodated him. They should have. But he never asked.

Now the County has to also consider the precedent of piece-mealing SUP parts per each landowner or driller, and the precedent of Waltrip's violation of the letter of the regulations (All required permits should be in place before issuance of the SUP and any fees associated with permits should be submitted).

Rather than how it should be, this is large-scale disfunction. Tearing pad construction apart to know it will not settle or slide may be the right call. It still sucks to take such a step. No winners there.

It helps to remember that Shell Oil is finding partnership with Routt County to be very easy. They meet Routt with a willingness to reach permit solutions. Quicksilver and its leaseholders are the opposite. Lines drawn in the sand and attorneys at their elbow.

Reconsidering the divide I mentioned. This isn't Oil against Routt residents. Shell Oil seems very willing to do this our way. The real difference is more a matter of a company's philosophy, and less a matter of Routt regulations.

0

Steve Lewis 1 year, 10 months ago

NPR aired an interview with the father of fracking, George Mitchell. Some interesting excerpts from the article:

  • he supports fossil fuel taxes

  • his foundation has given millions to research clean energy.

  • he wants stiff regulation of drillers, especially small, independent players.

"I've had too much experience running independents," Mitchell says. "They're wild people. You just can't control them. And if it doesn't do it right, penalize the oil and gas people. Get tough with them."

http://www.marketplace.org/topics/sustainability/oil-man-who-figured-out-fracking

0

Scott Wedel 1 year, 10 months ago

Steve,

Waltrip presents no issues to the county because, as of now, Quicksilver has not claimed the existing road is sufficient. Only after the permit is granted will Routt County and Quicksilver decide whether the road is sufficient. That process should be expected to review any engineering and construction records.

From the article, it took the County until Nov 8th to have a process which Waltrip could have applied to build the drilling access road and drilling pad prior to the permit being approved. It should be obvious that there was no practical way for him to use that process and to be largely done on Nov 21 as was done.

There is nothing about the rancher road that should have any effect upon the permit approval process. The rancher road only becomes a concern to the county building dept after the drilling permit is approved and Quicksilver comes to the county saying there is a road and drilling pad that meets the SUP's standards.

0

doug monger 1 year, 10 months ago

First off a ranch road on this property was not allowed because of the Conservation Easement. The Conservation Easement specifically says that no additional roads would be built on the property other than potential two track roads(I've seen the road, it certainly is not a two track) which would need prior approval by the monitoring Easement Holder. Routt County PDR put $250,000 into that easment, and GOCO put another $1.1million to purchase part of that easement. While Quicksilver would have the right to build the road to an oil well on the property, the property owner did not with out breaking the contractual Conservation Easement. Secondly not all agriculture activity is exempt from Grading and Excavation permits. There is wording that allows for minor disturbance that promotes animal husbandry or crop production is exempt, but not all Ag activity is exempt. The intent of Grading and Exc. permits is to protect water quality, watersheds, and mitigate for erosion. While we would hope that Ag producers would undertake such protections, small scale projects with exempt purposes are exempt from the regulations.

The county offered the same opportunity to Quicksilver as was provided to Shell in that they could sign a contract that would require the reclamation of the well pad and road if they were not granted the SUP. The contract also required a performance bond to insure the reclamation. Approx $25,000 in Shell's case. Quicksilver declined to utilize that option. As was discussed in a prior post, I doubt very seriously that Pirtlaw paid the bill to build the road and pad. Ironic how this all can became so complicated.

It should also be noted that Quicksilver was offered other earlier dates for their county hearing, none of them were utilized. COGCC issued their permit for this well on I believe Oct. 6,12, and it wasn't until 12/4 that we have a scheduled county hearing. The county process allows for dual permit applications. I'm struggling with the always Crisis Mode that has been portrayed on this property. We haven't experienced the Crisis Mode with other properties or operators. All involved knew that they were going to drill a well there in May, why was the application not complete and hearings undertaken months ago, all can blame the county but it was not the county holding up this application. We are furthering the prospect of streamlining applications, but this will require some diligence of the applicants as well. Doug Monger Routt Commissioner

0

Scott Wedel 1 year, 10 months ago

Doug,

"I doubt very seriously that Pirtlaw paid the bill to build the road and pad."

I cannot believe that a county commissioner that is scheduled to hear this issue is, without supporting evidence, expressing doubt that the rancher paid for the road. That is so wrong showing bias against the applicant. I think since SUP are quasi-judicial hearings which do not set policy, but determine how the application meets land use rules then public officials are not allowed to comment on pending applications, just like judges cannot comment on current cases. So I think Doug Monger has just disqualified himself from voting on this SUP.


Well, if the rancher violated the conservation easement then that would appear to be something the rancher has to work out. Though, this region has a long history of wealthy people and their lawyers winning battle with local government. Since the rancher conformed to other easements then I would expect the rancher is confident the road meets the legal definition of an allowable rancher road. Or whatever, I suspect the rancher has the legal angles covered far better than the county.

The reason this has become "a crisis" is because the county's lack of common sense. By looking for issues that could be conflated into a crises that could just as easily be handled sequentially without any negative consequences then county has found a way to create a crisis.

0

mark hartless 1 year, 10 months ago

Frankly, and clearly if there is a conservation easement that prohibits the road then that changes everything.

It trumps all other rights the rancher had. He signed up for that of his own volition and reaped the benefits.

Knowing this I would completely change my position about the property owner having a right to build the road, and about the county's right to bring it into question.

Protecting conservation easements can, I think, be equated to enforcing deed restrictions. Completely understandable, especially after the owner, at some point in the past, agreed to every bit of it.

Thank's Doug.

0

doug monger 1 year, 10 months ago

This SUP in in fact a quasi-judicial matter. I don't think for a minute that my stating some relevant facts to the matter affects my judgement on the matter. Relative to Pirtlaw paying for the road, I could care less who paid for the road, not an issue to me. I remain unbiased and will approach the hearing as such. I do on the other hand get a little sensitive about the county always shouldering the blame for the delays and problems with the oil and gas permitting. Oil and gas is different than other permitting, but it still needs to go through a similar overall process. I believe that the county and the companies are working towards a good working relationship.

0

Scott Wedel 1 year, 10 months ago

Mark,

Considering the rancher did follow conservation easements for wildlife, I suspect that he thinks he has solid legal advice that he is okay building the road. Considering when the easement was written that drilling roads were not a concern, but roads to houses were, I'd guess that the agreement is about width of roads, not strength of roads. Or he has time to bring any road building activity into conformance so if drilling permit is denied then he has time to remove the road.

I am pretty sure the agreement does not say "Owner is allowed to build what Doug Monger thinks is a two track ranch road." So what Doug Monger think is a two track ranch road is irrelevant. What matters is the actual wording in the agreement.

Doug,

"I doubt very seriously that Pirtlaw paid the bill to build the road and pad."

What fact is that? That is not claiming to have factual documents showing who really paid for the road. Instead, before the hearing, it is stated that CC Doug Monger has made conclusion regarding the road. Normally, I have no problem with CC Doug Monger, but I think that statement makes it very hard for him to hear the SUP application.

It would have been helpful if CC Monger had posted factual information including the part of the easement regarding roads.

0

Scott Wedel 1 year, 10 months ago

And if county does not want to be blamed for delays in issuing permits then it needs to issue permits as quickly as Garfield County. Routt County has not noticeably attempted to study how other counties are able to issue drilling permits more quickly than Routt County. If the criticism of being slow at issuing permits is a comment that stings then do something about it other than blaming applicants.

0

Steve Lewis 1 year, 10 months ago

Scott, The criticism of "slow permitting" has been a constant complaint from Quicksilver and the CSPR group. I found Doug's response to the timing of this permit helpful in that regard. It is also relevant to Romick's complaint of too little time to build the road.

I value the exchange when elected officials are willing to engage with constituents.

Who paid for the road or pad is irrelevant. I do not know the specs, but I still maintain that we lack County oversight of required elements, and that is not easily cured. A common complaint is that government is cumbersome. Their modes too rigid. I do not expect government to do a better job overseeing these oil wells if each landowner modifies parts of each oil well SUP according to his preference.

0

mark hartless 1 year, 10 months ago

All I'm saying, Scott, is that if such agreements exist then I was wrong to assert that the rancher was within his rights. He may not be. The easement/ agreement changes everything.

I also get the distinct feeling that Commissioner Monger, whom I do respect, quietly enjoys seeing us both with our foot in our mouth. Keep yours there as long as you wish; I know when I am wrong (sometimes anyway).

Cheers

Steve is also right about the exchange with elected officials being informative and that all landowners need to get on the same sheet of music so that oversight can be effective and timely. It's hard to pin all the blame on county officials if the people in the private sector are running around in all directions.

There's an old saying "Failure to plan on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part".

0

Marian Marti 1 year, 10 months ago

Scott - You obviously have opinions on this matter; yet you have not participated by attending the Planning Commission nor the County Commissioners meetings on any of the oil or gas permit hearings. Your opinion on who is to blame for delays in permitting is unfounded; perhaps it is time for you to attend these meetings and find that out for yourself. Thank you Doug for your comments.

0

Scott Wedel 1 year, 10 months ago

I have seen enough times how successful people with good lawyers defeat local governments to no longer quickly believe that local government have nearly as strong of a case as they claim. I think the rancher has a better legal strategy than blatantly and opening violating legal agreements and then hoping no one would notice.

I am not saying that Routt County needs to process permits as quickly as other counties. I am suggesting that if Routt County government thinks that they are unfairly being criticized for slowly issuing permits then the standard is not how long Routt County thinks it needs to properly consider an application, but how quickly other counties issue permits. Applicants are not going to say that Routt County Government does a nice job of fully considering all issues in a timely manner. They are going to compare how quickly it gets approved in Garfield County vs here.

I think County should, for now ignore the road and fairly consider the drilling permit. Then - if permit is approved then do whatever is needed to be sure the road and pad are built to proper standards. The process of verifying the road, recently built without inspections, meets the required standards could be expected to be costly. That would discourage future road/pad construction without inspections. - if permit is rejected then deal with what the conservation easement says about that sort of road.

That simplifies the process for the county since the issue of the road is considered only after the drilling permit is considered.

0

Scott Wedel 1 year, 10 months ago

Did anyone at the paper test any of the new features before rolling them out? I attempt to use the bullet list and then it does not make a bullet list.

What should be have a bullet list above:

I think County should, for now ignore the road and fairly consider the drilling permit. Then

  • if permit is approved then do whatever is needed to be sure the road and pad are built to proper standards. The process of verifying the road, recently built without inspections, meets the required standards could be expected to be costly. That would discourage future road/pad construction without inspections.

  • if permit is rejected then deal with what the conservation easement says about that sort of road.

0

John Weibel 1 year, 10 months ago

Steve, on your comment. "Ranchers do not need permits when building roads, pads, buildings for Ag Use. For other Uses, such as Commercial Use, I believe they also need the permits"

At what point does ag transform itself into commercial? When someone washed lettuce on their farm to be resold? That is processing and from recent events at the state one would be led to believe that they believe it is agricultural.

In discussing my issue with the International Code Council and others, I believe that the codes are written for any instance that has ever arisen. Needing sprinklers in all kitchen cabinets for the proposed horizons building.

Many use those freak accidents to make things more expensive to build. They also use those fears of bad things happening to make it difficult for small independent operators to break into existing marketplaces. Both are barriers to entry, and if we really want to work towards sustainability, we should be trying to allow small scale agriculture to process foods on farm and still be considered agriculture, as most communities do.

Season extending hoop houses change an agricultural operation to commercial. If there really is a desire to see agriculture make a comeback in the valley and grow to where local agriculture can provide what industrial agriculture can, then allowing for some provisions for growth would be beneficial.

0

Scott Wedel 1 year, 10 months ago

To use bullet list you have to add a blank line before the bullet line. And, as always, it does not show up correctly in the preview box.

0

rhys jones 1 year, 10 months ago

My apologies, Pilot. Seems I opened a can of worms for you. Now everybody is an expert. Or at least who you would expect to be.

0

rhys jones 1 year, 10 months ago

Tyler: Hint: If you can escape HTML tags ("<" would do it) then we can't cry when it doesn't work like we think it should. Our posts would look real odd then. I clean all that crap out of my http strings, (what I accept) too many things can mess with them.

preg_replace("/[^w/-.# ]+/", "", $string); will clean it up real nice -- A-z, 0-9, space, slash, dash, hash, dot -- what else do they need?.

0

rhys jones 1 year, 10 months ago

Wow, it butchered that regular expression -- dropped all my backslashes, for starters -- your site won't let me escape!! HAR HAR HAR HAR....

0

rhys jones 1 year, 10 months ago

PS Tyler -- The reason I don't allow single- or double-quotes is because I have occasionally encountered intervening software which attempts cleanup of its own -- and since those are potentially the string delimiters -- and if I'm trying to escape them too -- now we are potentially escaping escapes, and things all blow up -- my guys don't need 'em -- and you may not be similarly constrained. You can allow quoting, I'll bet.

See the cartoon I quoted in the new format forum -- it gets richer all the time. Don't let THEM shoot YOU in the foot!!

0

Scott Wedel 1 year, 10 months ago

Apparently ground water contamination is not uncommon, but it mostly comes from surface spills.

http://www.denverpost.com/recommended/ci_22154751

0

Steve Lewis 1 year, 10 months ago

John, It will always be a challenge to scale our regs according to the harm we are preventing. Plenty of examples of overreach to match the examples of harm done. It is the balance we will always be debating. Loved the milk this summer.

Scott, Thanks for the link. I get RSS feeds from the Post and this article was the first time I've seen the Post acknowledge groundwater contamination. Per your link, COGCC records document roughly 70 incidents of Colorado groundwater contamination per year over the past 5 years. You'd think the Post would have noticed before now?

Had an interesting exchange this Spring with a County fellow who was staffing the O&G hearings. He put a lot of stock in the report "“Separating Fact from Fiction in Shale Gas Development”, by U.T. professor, Charles Groat. The report was strategically press released in draft forms and its summary was very supportive of the O&G industry. Today Groat is in a lot of trouble because his summary grossly overstated the findings of other contributing faculty white papers, while omitting their caveats.

So yes it has been a confusing debate. Which only increases my appreciation of Nancy Stahoviak's solid work. For many months she was the County Commissioner with the middle and determining vote on this issue. Our most valuable "conditions of approval" now in place are largely her work. Thanks Nancy.

0

Mike Isaac 1 year, 10 months ago

I can"t see why this road issue is even a issue at all, If the Rancher had not put the road in when he did he may of had to wait till spring to build the road and drill the well . Now that the road is in the drillers will have that much more time to do the job right. We don't want mistakes caused short timelines. Remember that spill in the Gulf of Mexico 18 months ago ? That was caused by a process used to speed up the drying the cement at the well head, but that can make the cement weak and that caused people to be vaporized and fish to die. I don't want to see spills or dirty water. I hope they hit the motherload and hire a few locals while they are at it.
Steve Lewis I saw that UT story about Groat and that sort of thing gos on more offten than not. CNN was taking money from the White House to sell the Iraq war to the people, Fox News did everything they could to make Ron Paul look bad by orders from the RNC.A moved that cost them the White House. Almost $10 Billion were paid to Hollywood to write in story lines making Gun Owners and Preppers look bad and Obamacare was painted in a good light thanks to the White House and the real winners in that deal, the Big Insurance companies who will make Billions thanks to their pal Mr O. " W" taught him well. Kinda sounds like N Korea product placement to me

0

Requires free registration

Posting comments requires a free account and verification.