BOCC denies BCC and GVCA request for appeal of COGCC’s B pad permit

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 yellow line is the route of the 2.5 mile pipeline. [Source: Garfield County]

Today Garfield County Commissioners unanimously denied a request from Battlement Concerned Citizens and Grand Valley Citizens Alliance that the commissioners request a hearing to appeal the recent approval by the COGCC for Ursa’s B pad in Battlement Mesa.

Click here to read the BCC/GVCA letter to the BOCC.

The main issue, as described in the citizens groups’ letter and reiterated by their attorney Matt Sura at today’s BOCC meeting, is the inclusion of a 25th well site for the purpose of an injection well plus a site for the location of 6 tanks and a pump to service that injection well in Ursa’s proposed B pad well site plan that the COGCC approved on September 9.

COGCC director Matt Lepore, who participated in Monday’s BOCC meeting via teleconference, explained that the COGCC has not permitted an injection well on the B pad and Ursa has not applied for an injection well on the B pad, adding, “An injection well would be permitted through the county first.”

According to county staff there are no pending applications from Ursa for an injection well on the B pad.

Lepore said, “The state will not consider an injection well permit on B pad until Ursa goes through the county.”

Additionally, Lepore made it clear to the commissioners that Ursa’s Form 2A on the B pad that was approved on September 9, did include a site for a 25th well, presumably an injection well, plus a site for 6 storage tanks and associated equipment. But the neither the application nor the permit included an actual injection well.

Sura pointed out that those elements were not included in Ursa’s permit application to Garfield County which was approved last December.

Garfield County oil & gas liaison Kirby Wynn said that he attended a Battlement Mesa Service Association meeting this morning where the possibility of injection well on the B pad was discussed. The BMSA is the homeowners board.

According to Wynn, because injection wells are not allowed inside Battlement Mesa PUD, Ursa would first need to apply to the county planning commission for a zoning variance before applying for a permit for the injection well.

Doug Saxton, BCC co-chair, cited text from the February 29 letter in which CDPHE’s oil & gas liaison Kent Kuster stated that the CDPHE recommends denial of a permit for an injection well and storage tanks on the B pad because the well pad is located in close proximity to the community’s water intake on the Colorado River. Saxton reminded commissioners that Kuster’s letter was the result of their request for CDPHE consultation on the location of the B pad.

Locating a Class II Injection Well on URSA’s BMC B Well Pad

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. The Battlement Mesa Water Treatment Plant has a raw water intake structure in close proximity to this proposed well pad creating an unnecessary long-term risk for a spill or release to potentially impact the public water supply. This risk will persist for many years, and will continue as additional well sites are developed in Battlement Mesa area. There are options available when determining a location for a Class II injection well and the Department believes Class II injection wells should not be located in Urban Mitigation Areas.

After considering the long-term risk to the public water supply and the flexibility available to the Operator when locating Class II injection wells the Department recommends that the COGCC deny the permit for the injection well and the associated storage tanks on the URSA BMC B well pad.

Sura said, “The CDPHE letter shows that CDPHE and COGCC are at odds about locating injections wells in large urban mitigation areas.”

He said that a hearing would give the agencies a chance to hear from the public on the issue. He cited these additional considerations:

  • CDPHE recommended denial of an injection well on the B pad site
  • Ursa did not look at alternate locations
  • As proposed by Ursa, the injection well would be illegal according to COGCC rules that say multi-well injection wells must be located as far as possible from homes

Sura brought up another stickier concern on the minds of residents and the citizens groups.

A Form 2A is the application for the well site, which includes environmental and surface issues. A Form 2 is an application for an injection well which includes mostly downhole issues. Ursa did originally submit a Form 2 for the injection well on the B pad. That was in error because they were supposed to get county approval first. So Ursa withdrew their Form 2. But clearly Ursa intends to put an injection well on the B pad, in spite of the fact that CDPHE says it’s too close to the community’s water intake on the Colorado River and recommended denial.

But there has never been a public hearing regarding the injection well on the B pad because the injection well was not included in Ursa’s application plan to the county but it WAS included in Ursa’s application plan to the state. And the CDPHE said it was a really bad idea. But the COGCC approved the permit for the B pad on September 9, without a public hearing.

It seems like now would be a good time have a public hearing about whether to even allow a plan for the injection well and tanks sites to stand as approved when the whole idea of an injection well on that site poses a threat to public health that will persist for many years.

Commissioner John Martin said that at such time that Ursa should apply for an injection well permit with the county, which they would have to do first, there would be public hearings on the zoning issue as well as the Form 2 actual permit for the injection well.

Sura argued that the citizens groups are concerned the public will lose the right to comment at those public hearings on the injection well because Form 2 deals with the mechanics of the injection well and not the environmental and surface issues.

In other words, should Ursa submit a Form 2 for an injection well, the commissioners could say that the public can’t comment on the location of the injection well because the location has already been approved by the state.

It’s a valid concern.

Lepore said there would not be a hearing on a Form 2 for an injection well at the state level.

So the citizens groups requested that the county appeal the inclusion of the injection well and tanks in the site plan approval so there can be an actual public hearing about whether that site, the B pad, so close the community’s water intake on the Colorado River, is an appropriate place for an injection well.

But all three commissioners — Martin, Jankovsky, and Samson — assured Sura, the citizens groups, and the public that if in fact Ursa should ever decide to put an injection well on the B pad that they will of course hold public hearings, probably like four or even six they said. I guess they can make those kinds of promises because they plan to be commissioners not only for life but in perpetuity.

Therefore the BCC, the GVCA, the residents, and surrounding public can rest assured that there will be local hearings someday — no one knows when — about the injection well on the B pad. But the commissioners will not request a hearing with the state and there will be no further discussion of the matter until Ursa decides to apply to the county for a permit for an injection well.

Post Independent Garfield County declines to intervene on injection well in Battlement Mesa

Daily Sentinel GarCo won’t seek hearing on Battlement well

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Get From the Styx delivered

Subscribe to our RSS feed and social profiles to receive updates.

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: