Quicksilver oil well hearing to focus on air, water quality
Steamboat Springs Quicksilver Resources returns to the Routt County Board of Commissioners Tuesday night in hopes of hammering out the final conditions to be placed upon its application for a permit to drill an oil well about 11 miles west of Steamboat Springs.
The application was tabled April 24 to allow the commissioners to retain the services of consultants to guide them in drafting language for requirements that energy exploration companies operating here install ongoing air and water quality monitoring devices.
Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak said Monday that after hearing from its consultants during the public hearing, and gathering the reaction of Quicksilver officials, the board will take public comments Tuesday night, but only on the subject of air and water quality monitoring in the contest of the well permit.
“That’s what the tabling motion was for,” Stahoviak said.
Since April, the commissioners have hired hydrology consultant Tom Myers, who visited the Camilletti site on June 6, and Air Resource Specialists to advise them on the criteria that should be used in their conditions requiring pollution monitoring practices by the energy companies.
David Ludlam, executive director of the West Slope Colorado Oil and Gas Association, wrote the commissioners June 21 that the air and water reports prepared by the consultants concern his organization because “they have the potential to place undue and unauthorized burdens upon oil and gas industry in Routt County.”
The commissioners said Monday they expect Stephen Lindsey of Quicksilver to respond to the findings of its consultants. Matt Holman of Shell Oil also has submitted comments.
The differing points of view between Quicksilver and county officials were clear in April.
Lindsey told the commissioners during the last hearing that in his view, the county approval process since December has been one that tends to add new conditions of approval as it moves along.
“The science lies in the regulatory process,” Lindsey said. “We’re not opposed to a monitoring well when it makes sense. What I see is the continuous creating of conditions of approval that becomes an ordinance. I’ve got a concern that this whole template (of conditions of approval) becomes additive and additive and additive. In some cases, the returns are diminishing and could actually be counterproductive.”
Commissioner Diane Mitsch Bush told Lindsey that the rules the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission uses to regulate the industry are the result of a political process that didn’t always put science first.
“The regulations we have in place through COGCC are not (entirely) based on science. Let’s be clear about this,” Mitsch Bush said. “And in my opinion, they are not strong enough to protect the health, safety and welfare of the citizens of Routt County. That’s really the crux of it.”
To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com