Battlement residents say Antero well pad fouling air

Battlement Mesa residents are once again fuming about Antero Resources natural gas drilling in the community of more than 5,000 on the state’s Western Slope. This time quite literally.

The grassroots Battlement Concerned Citizens group is holding a public meeting Wednesday at 2 p.m. at the Battlement Mesa Activity Center to discuss fumes they believe are emanating from an Antero well pad at Watson Ranch just east of the Battlement Schoolhouse.

Garfield County oil and gas liaison Judy Jordan will attend, according to the BCC, and Antero officials have also been invited. The group has been working to mitigate the potential impacts of a planned 200-well drilling project by Denver-based Antero, and some residents are concerned the odors are a preview of the future the drilling plan will bring to the community.

Last week Garfield County, on the advice of its attorney, declined to declare Battlement Mesa an area of state interest in order to exercise county 1041 powers, which have been used in the past to assert county control over infrastructure projects typically regulated by the state. Eagle County successfully used 1041 powers to stop an Aurora and Colorado Springs water diversion project in the 1990s.

However, the special county powers – named after House Bill 1041 in the 1970s – have not been used to try to regulate oil and gas drilling, which is permitted and overseen by the state’s Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. Garfield County last week did direct its attorney to work to try and resolve differences with a BCC attorney who says the 1041 powers may be applicable.

The county attorney, according to the Glenwood Springs Post Independent, concluded Battlement Mesa is not a new enough development that its growth would be threatened by drilling and that when the county approved its original PUD in 1970s as an Exxon oil shale company town, mineral development was contemplated.

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