The COGCC approved Ursa’s permit application for the BMC D Pad, the pad that is not located next to the Colorado River. It is one of two proposed well pads to be located inside the Battlement Mesa PUD. As the first real test of the new state rule regarding large urban mitigation area (UMA) facilities, this shows you that while the industry has created additional hoops for operators to jump through, the outcome is the same. The state approves monster O&G facilities in residential neighborhoods, with conditions and allows the operators to monitor and inspect their own facilities.
The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission on Thursday approved applications for one of two well pads in Battlement Mesa.
The decision, which opponents on Friday said hardly comes as a surprise, gives the operator the green light to move forward on its BMC D pad, located off County Road 307 south of Battlement Parkway. It comes with 36 conditions of approval and 14 best management practices aimed at mitigating impacts.
The D pad — which includes 28 wells, two condensate tanks, six water tanks and a pigging station (used for pipeline maintenance) — is one of two pads for which Ursa is seeking approval to drill in the residential community of nearly 5,000 people.
The other pad, Ursa’s BMC B pad, is still being reviewed …
… As COGCC director Matt Lepore explained in a statement Friday, the D pad is no longer up for a hearing since it has been approved.
“We have approved the D pad, which means there will not be a hearing on that pad,” Lepore said. “Our review of the B pad is ongoing, and the hearing scheduled for Glenwood was continued by Ursa until the Aug. 29 hearing. Again, if approved before then, the hearing (on the B pad) will not occur.”
Earlier this week at a community meeting in Battlement Mesa — where some residents voiced continued opposition and skepticism regarding Ursa’s plans — Rob Bleil, Ursa’s regulatory and environmental manager, said the operator was expecting a decision from COGCC in the next two weeks.
That statement removed any shock that Thursday’s decision may have had, said Leslie Robinson, chair of the Grand Valley Citizen’s Alliance, a group that has fought the locations of the two pads in Battlement Mesa.
“We’re still not satisfied,” Robinson said Friday. “We feel that there could have been better locations for those pads … that they didn’t need to be within a thousand feet of people’s homes.”
According to a drawing provided to COGCC by Ursa, a multifamily residence is 820 feet from the nearest well on the D pad, while a single family home is 726 feet away from the nearest production facility on the pad.
IN BUSINESS OF APPROVAL
Dave Devanney, co-chair of Battlement Concerned Citizens, another group opposed to the plans, shared similar thoughts on both the lack of surprise and the disappointment.
“The COGCC is in the business of approving O&G drilling applications — regardless of the impact on residents,” Devanney said in an email Friday. “The industry and Ursa acknowledge there will be negative impacts on all residents — young and old. The regulators know this, too, but there is little that they can or will do at this point” …
Read the COGCC Conditions of Approval for Ursa’s BMC D Pad
Keep in mind these conditions are arbitrary and rely completely on the honor system. The operator — Ursa — is allowed to self-monitor.
… One of the county’s conditions included in the state approval is a time frame commitment requiring Ursa to bring all 28 wells into full production within three years from the start of construction on the pad.
Ursa also is required to conduct continuous sound monitoring during construction, drilling and completion activities.
According to the state’s condition of approval, “the operator must have a documented process for responding to sound levels that exceed COGCC sound limits and must provide continuous sound monitoring data to COGCC on tables or graphs within 48 hours of a request.”
‘WE HAVE TO DO THEM ALL’
Daily odor monitoring should be conducted during the completions stage, and documentation of that monitoring must be made available to COGCC or the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment …
It’s important to note that the sound monitoring data only needs to be available upon request. Ursa is not required to submit sound monitoring data on a regular schedule. Plus odor monitoring is only required during completions – fracking – not drilling. As hundreds of FLIR videos have shown, all O&G facilities emit toxic chemicals and odors constantly. Research by the late Dr. Theo Colborn at TEDEX has shown that the largest volumes of chemicals are emitted during the drilling stage. But Ursa will not be required to monitor emissions during drilling.