For background on this story read: Ursa moves to drill 53 wells in Battlement Mesa
BCC Community Meeting was held on Monday night at the fire station and was extremely well attended. Over 150 people showed up, the parking spilling over to line the cemetery road. As usual, the hard core believers were seated as close to the action as possible while the naysayers and oil and gas peeps lounged at the fringes along the back.
Dave Devanney opened the meeting and, although being very welcoming to all, made it crystal clear that this was a meeting for The Residents and not an Ursa meeting and that the agenda, whilst it might be controversial, wasn’t open for discussion. The impending impacts on the health, safety and welfare of the community, and what steps could be taken to mitigate them, was the information on offer tonight.
First up was Fred Jarman to take us through the permitting process. Fred was at pains to make us believe that there was no stone left unturned in Ursa’s application. He held up the 3 large binders as evidence of his sincerity (eerily like Mitt Romney’s Binders of Women).
The BoCC hadn’t even decided when they would hear the application – proof positive that it wasn’t a done deal. They would hear our voices! In Glenwood though, because the interwebz doesn’t work in Battlement Mesa and We the People deserve only the best of IT solutions. Oh and at 1:00 p.m. on Mondays, though Fred wanted us to know that John [Commissioner John Martin] was thinking of us. Maybe we could do 6:00 p.m.? John said.
Fred said that if you would like to join the Planning Committee as they view Ursa’s proposal on site, you are more than welcome. It’s a Public Meeting. 9.30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. on September 22. The Ursa crew in front of me shifted uneasily. The prospect of 150 retired folk under their care and control dawned on them quickly. The Planning Committee then meets the following day, September 23, in Glenwood, to review the application.
Next up was Doug Saxton, ably assisted by Bob Arrington on the laser pointer. The series of slides Doug presented showed in graphic detail the grid downhole well bores across the landscape currently. Phase One of Ursa’s application means even more of the same, along with another wastewater well (not in this application). One pad is next to the 6th green and 7th tee, if you need to be reminded that this is a residential retired community we are talking about here, not an Industrial Park.
Betsy Leonard got the first round of applause for the night as she talked about the impacts she had experienced, and the impacts of large scale industrial oil and gas development in general, and finished by saying, “None of these should apply in a residential area.” She was followed by a number of residents (I didn’t get the names, sorry) standing up to testify about the impacts they too had experienced.
A couple of notes about the residents’ stories: When they called to complain Ursa answered their calls promptly and politely. They explained the odors (it was generally odors people called about) although didn’t do anything about them. One curious thing was that one resident called to complain about a sweet smell and was told Ursa workers were cleaning a well, (with what? Lemon washing up liquid?). Then someone else stated that she had worked security at an oil and gas facility (possibly a well pad, she seemed unsure) and had been told that a sweet smell was Very Very Bad and Dangerous.
As Pake (TK surname) from Ursa was right in front of me, obviously having escaped his handlers for the evening, I pounced. “Pake! Is that true?”
Pake seemed as flabbergasted at the story as I was and replied, “Naw! It’s the rotten eggs you gotta watch for!”
Proof, should you need any more, that H2S is not unheard of in the Piceance Basin. Now to be fair, they do add an odor to domestic gas, so possibly the lady was confused. On the other hand, sweet means different things to different people and Hydrogen Cyanide gas smells of bitter almonds, a flavoring used in cakes and candies. Just sayin’ …
The take home message from the residents is Battlement Mesa Smells Bad
Matt Sura gave a stirring presentation on Fighting Back, using Greeley (where they vote Republican!) as an example. First he showed a series of terrible accidents involving all phases of oil and gas operations and then he said that Stuff Happens, and that’s why as a people, we choose to keep heavy industry contained in specific areas, so that we limit the risks to our population. But if you live within a half mile of a well pad, those risks are significantly increased and they are imposed, not chosen, risks.
At this point I wondered if people in BM could actually get homeowners insurance? And then to wonder if Ursa’s insurance is adequate to cover the impending conflagration or if they would declare bankruptcy and leave BM looking like a set from Mad Max 3.
The State says that a multi-well production facility MUST be located as far as possible from homes, and this standard is demanded across the Front Range, so why not in Garfield County? And given that, could Ursa site their operations elsewhere? The long and short of it is, yes. Greeley made them move a well pad from downtown. It’s possible to drill from 2 miles away, it may cost more, but it IS possible.
So — use public pressure to force Ursa to do an alternative location analysis.
And while you’re at it, tell them that if Encana can agree with Erie to reduce noise to 60db, why can’t the 80db Ursa is proposing to inflict on us 24/7 for SEVEN months be reduced?
Has Ursa contacted CDPHE, who apparently are very concerned about the well pad location next to the BM water intake?
Why are there no fire suppression systems installed on the well pads?
Stand Up and Be Heard!
Daily Sentinel: Group urges action on Battlement Mesa drilling
Post Independent: Drilling plans displease Battlement Mesa residents