Battlement residents object to Ursa’s hearing delay

The blue squares show the location of two well pads within the Battlement Mesa PUD where at least 53 wells will be drilled. The yellow line is the route of the 2.5 mile pipeline. Construction on the well pads is expected to begin in the 2nd quarter of 2017. [Source: Garfield County]

The blue squares show the location of two well pads within the Battlement Mesa PUD where at least 53 wells will be drilled.  The D pad on the right was approved in July. The B pad, next to the Colorado River is awaiting COGCC approval. The yellow line is the route of the 2.5 mile pipeline. [Source: Garfield County]

Ursa requested and the COGCC granted another extension on the operator’s permit application for the B pad which will be located in Battlement Mesa subdivision. If you’re keeping score, this is Ursa’s third request for an extension after demanding hearings back in April. But once the Battlement Concerned Citizens, Grand Valley Citizens Alliance, and Western Colorado Congress were granted intervenor status to participate in the hearings, then Ursa soured on the whole idea of hearings and started asking for extensions.

The COGCC hearing for Ursa’s B pad permit application, which was scheduled for August 29-30, has been moved out to October 24-25.

The B pad is one of two well pads planned for location in the Battlement Mesa subdivision. The D pad was approved by the COGCC without a hearing in July. There have been pending issues regarding the permit application for the B pad. The CDPHE objected to the injection well on the site which is located near Battlement Mesa’s municipal water intake on the Colorado River. Ursa took the injection well off the application — for now — but residents are still object to a well pad so close to the source of their drinking water.

The CDPHE’s concerns and objections came out in a February 29th letter to COGCC’s Matt Lepore, in which CDPHE oil & gas liaison Kent Kuster raised concerns about the location of a Class II injection well on the proposed B pad, which is located less than 300 feet from the Colorado River and immediately upstream from Battlement Mesa’s water intake.

… URSA’s BMC B well pad includes a Class II injection well with six produced water storage tanks that the Department believes creates a significant contamination risk to the public water supply for Battlement Mesa …

A second letter from Kuster followed in on March 16, in which he stated that Ursa’s application for the B pad “was submitted with substantially incorrect information that has affected the consultation by CDPHE that could provide additional protections to the public water supply.” The CDPHE recommended denial of Ursa’s request for a variance.

A Post Independent article stated:

… Simpson contends the opposition groups have been granted plenty of opportunities to present their cases, including through the Garfield County special use permit process and through comments submitted to COGCC …

However there have been no public hearings on Ursa’s permit applications to the COGCC since the CDPHE raised their concerns. Therefore the residents have not had adequate opportunity to raise their concerns and have their questions fully answered. No doubt that’s the last thing Ursa wants.

In the comments below GVCA chair Leslie Robinson says: “GVCA wanted to proceed with the hearing, in part, to convince the COGCC to follow their own regulations to request that Ursa present an alternative location for Pad B. The maneuvering of the pad footprint isn’t veiling the precarious location to our scare water resources. Injection wells are too dangerous to be within a 1,000 radius from neighborhoods and Battlement’s drinking water resource.”

With the hearing now more than 2 months away, it’s obvious Ursa is planning to hammer out the B pad issues with the COGCC so the commissioners will approve the application without benefit of a public hearing.

No August hearing on Ursa application

… For BCC, though, this most recent continuation appears to be an attempt by Ursa to prevent the hearing and testimony from opposition groups, said Doug Saxton, the other co-chair of BCC.

COGCC can render a decision on an application prior to a scheduled hearing date — as it did in July when it approved Ursa’s 28-well D pad in Battlement Mesa.

“The thing that I guess is apparent is … if there were no continuation, a hearing would be much more likely,” Saxton said. “And we’ve always wanted there to be a hearing so we could formally present our case. But if a decision is made prior to October now, which seems pretty likely, there won’t necessarily be any hearing. It’s really a catch-22.”

Simpson contends the opposition groups have been granted plenty of opportunities to present their cases, including through the Garfield County special use permit process and through comments submitted to COGCC.

… Devanney said he has little hope that the outcome will be anything other than approval from the COGCC …

‘We were hopeful at one time that the COGCC might be able to just say no to an application such as this … in a residential community but it’s not looking like that right now,” he said, “and I suspect this application will get approved” …

**********

Hearing delayed on Ursa’s pad in Battlement again

… The citizen groups object to the pending pad proposal partly because of its proximity to Battlement Mesa’s municipal water intake on the Colorado River. They say Ursa’s tentative plans to operate a wastewater injection well on the pad also threaten the intake.

“We’re wondering what’s so wrong about Ursa’s application that even they are requesting extending deadlines,” Robinson said.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment likewise cited the water intake and injection well concerns in a Feb. 29 letter to the commission. Ursa has since shifted the planned location of tanks on the pad so it wouldn’t require a variance from a setback requirement protecting public water supplies. Simpson said CDPHE has visited the proposed pad and is now OK with the site and Ursa’s planned measures to protect things like the water intake.

While Ursa is seeking inclusion of the injection well in the location approval, it isn’t seeking a permit for the well itself at this point. Simpson said Ursa is considering alternatives to locating the injection well on the pad but thinks it can operate an injection well safely there and it’s a good location for an injection well, with minimal visual and sound impacts for residents.

The well could handle water produced from wells drilled in both pad locations, eliminating truck traffic that otherwise would be needed to haul that water, Simpson said.

 

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One Comment on “Battlement residents object to Ursa’s hearing delay”

  1. Leslie Robinson Says:

    GVCA wanted to proceed with the hearing, in part, to convince the COGCC to follow their own regulations to request that Ursa present an alternative location for Pad B. The maneuvering of the pad footprint isn’t veiling the precarious location to our scare water resources. Injection wells are too dangerous to be within a 1,000 radius from neighborhoods and Battlement’s drinking water resource.

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