Battlement Mesa residents leery of plan to drill for gas right in town

It’s a valid question: If you retired to Colorado’s sunny Western Slope for the laidback mountain lifestyle but bought into a community purpose-built for workers during the oil shale boom of the 1980s, should you be shocked when drilling rigs sprout like pinon pines in your neighborhood?

Battlement Mesa residents are grappling with that question these days after Denver-based Antero Resources recently struck a deal to drill up to 200 gas wells from 10 pads right in town — some within a few hundred feet of homes and the municipal golf course.

According to the Aspen Daily News, that has some residents of the former Exxon company town along I-70 crying fore — or at least foul –- despite some extraordinary measures Antero is willing to take to hide, disguise and otherwise mitigate visual, auditory and odiferous impacts.

Antero officials said they will sink well pads and surround them with vegetation, shroud derricks, and cover holding tanks full of noxious chemicals, but that may not be enough for some residents, according to the News:

“I don’t mind them being around but that’s getting a little too close to home as far as I’m concerned,” resident Mike Misek told the News. “It’s lit up at night like it’s Christmastime.”

Jeanie Hoffman said she worries fumes from gas drilling has contributed to her asthma and two bouts with cancer.

“When I got here I loved it,” said Hoffman, who moved to the community in 1995, before the recent rush of gas drilling. “Now I hate it, but I’m stuck here.”

The Battlement Mesa plan represents the first real test of the state’s new, more environmentally stringent drilling regulations, and also demonstrates industry’s willingness to operate under the new rules despite its ongoing legal challenge of the regs.

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About the Author

David O. Williams

is an award-winning reporter who has covered energy, environmental and political issues for years. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune and Denver Post. He's founder of Real Vail
and Real Aspen.

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