Tuesday, March 22, 2011

BREATHE Act To Strip Clean Air Exemptions For Gas Drilling

CLICK HERE to read the full story at the Colorado Independent

By David O. Williams -- March 18, 2011

U.S. Rep. Jared Polis on Thursday followed up his reintroduction this week of the FRAC Act — which would tighten federal regulation of natural gas drilling’s impacts to water quality — with the BREATHE Act, a bill that would remove two exemptions for gas drilling under the Clean Air Act.

Rep. Jared Polis

The huge spike in natural gas production in the United States over the last decade or so has brought air and water quality issues to the forefront in some unexpected places – like scenic Pinedale, Wyo., which recently saw several major drilling companies temporarily shut down operations because of ozone alerts. Polis, in a release Thursday, cited the Wyoming situation.

But closer to home, Garfield County – second only to Weld County in terms of Colorado drilling activity – has been the scene of intense public debate about air quality standards. Air quality is a major focus of an ongoing health impact assessment paid for by the county and in many ways colors the debate over major new drilling proposals in and around subdivisions in Silt and Battlement Mesa.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Drilling on Colorado's BLM Land

CLICK HERE to read 'Drilling on BLM Land Brings Billions of Dollars to Colorado' on KREXTV site

Oil and gas production on BLM lands here in Colorado is pumping billions of dollars into the state's economy. A study of the economic impact of activities managed by the Bureau of Land Management shows big money coming into the state from oil and gas production from lands the BLM leases to energy companies.

Colorado reaped close to $4 billion in direct economic benefits from minerals development on BLM land in fiscal 2010.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

GV Citizens Alliance Meeting 3/8/11

Agenda: GVCA, March 8, 2011

Call to order at 6:00 at our new location in the conference room at the Rifle Library

Review of minutes 6:00 to 6:10 (Joyce)


BCC update 6:15 to 6:30 (Ron)

RSPN update 6:30 to 6:45 (Sandy, Nikki, Fiona)

WCC report 6:45to 6:55 (Frank or Paul)

Health Impact Assessment 7:55 to 7:10 (Ron or Bob)

Vote on Slate of Officers in June 7:10 to 7:15

Review of financial report 7:15 to 7:30 (Leslie)

Grant update, bills

Discussions: Hiring Tresi Houpt for advocacy and facilitation; marketing assistance (Progress Now or a marketing firm or ?); inviting WORC to come in for leadership training (when?); other.

Adjourn at 8:00

Monday, March 7, 2011

Agency eyes fix of wells near Silt over methane concerns

By Dennis Webb w/ Grand Junction Sentinel
Monday, March 7, 2011

State regulators are considering requiring retroactive top-to-bottom cementing of about 30 natural gas wells south of Silt because of concerns about possible methane contamination of domestic groundwater.

The approach is something the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission might evaluate and possibly require in some other areas in the region as well, said Stuart Ellsworth, the agency’s engineering manager.

In the Mamm/Divide creek area, the technique is being considered for wells where shallower gas not being targeted for energy development could rise through the uncemented area between the well casing and the outer edge of the well bore. Gas related to drilling has been found in domestic groundwater in the area.

Geoffrey Thyne, a geological consultant for Garfield County, long has contended that methane levels have been rising in water wells in the geologically faulted Mamm/Divide creek area as a result of drilling, and he has recommended consideration of top-to-bottom cementing. He welcomed news that the state is evaluating the approach for some wells.

“I think overall when we work in these structurally complex areas it seems to be a good idea to cement top to bottom,” he said.

The state requires that approach in coal-bed methane development. In Piceance Basin wells, however, it requires cementing around the well casing only from the bottom up to above the gas production zone, and from the top down to below domestic groundwater levels. That leaves the intermediate area unsealed.

Chevron voluntarily cements essentially the entire length of its local wells, where it operates outside De Beque, to protect groundwater and keep the metal well casing from being corroded by water. ExxonMobil, which operates in Rio Blanco County, also normally cements from top to bottom, state officials say.

The approach costs more. But state officials are evaluating whether it might make sense in some cases where the intermediate portions of wells pass through formations containing what Ellsworth called “nuisance” gas of noncommercial volume. Water around the well casing can create enough pressure to keep the gas in place, but if not, cementing may be needed, Ellsworth said.

Unfortunately, he said, where there is enough gas pressure, it can be hard to create a seal because the gas creates channels through the cement before it hardens. When that happens, the damaged cement that is in place makes it difficult to do repairs. As a result, sometimes it’s better to try to control the gas “by other methods, so you don’t hide a problem,” he said.

Friday, March 4, 2011

COGCC Looks Into Use of Diesel In Fracking

CLICK HERE to read the full story in the Post Independent

Colorado regulators are investigating recent accusations that oil and gas drilling companies injected 1.3 million gallons of diesel fuel into the ground during gas drilling activities between 2005 and 2009.

The charge was made in a report written for members of a congressional committee, released in late January, which found evidence that more than 32 million gallons of diesel fuel were used by the industry in 19 states, including Colorado.

“We're currently reviewing our records” to determine if the allegation is true, said Dave Neslin, executive director of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, at a meeting on Thursday of the Northwest Colorado Oil and Gas Forum.

The fluids cited in the report were used in a procedure known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in which vast amounts of water, sand and chemicals are injected into gas-well bores under pressure, to break up buried rock formation and make it easier for gas and oil to flow to the surface.

The technique has been used by the industry for decades, and is now used in nearly all wells currently being drilled, including those in Garfield County.

But the procedure has come under growing scrutiny as the industry has converged on a geologic formation known as the Marcellus Shale, a rock bed the size of Greece that lies about 6,000 feet beneath New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio.

The New York Times has published several stories in recent days about the drilling phenomenon, under the title, “Drilling Down,” concentrating mainly on the Marcellus Shale operations.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

2nd Draft of Battlement Mesa Health Study

CLICK HERE to read the full article in the Post Independent

"A Denver-based team of scientists has concluded, for the second time, that the health and safety of the residents of Battlement Mesa probably will be threatened by oil and gas drilling within the boundaries of the community.
The HIA, basically a review of existing data, began in May of 2010 and was conducted to establish a baseline of health information for residents of Battlement Mesa, an unincorporated community of 5,000.

The gas drilling company Antero Resources has plans to drill up to 200 gas wells from nine surface well pads within the boundaries of the community.

The first draft, issued in September 2010, predicted that residents most likely will face negative health effects from Antero's activities.

That report was met with strong condemnation from the oil and gas industry and technical criticism from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment [CDPHE]."