Frustrated with current state oil and gas regulations and tired of the lack of planning at either the state or county level, a number of citizens directly impacted by the oil and gas boom in Garfield County have taken a different approach – they have negotiated directly with the industry. Their efforts over the last several months are on the cutting edge of ways to plan for natural-gas development in the Intermountain West
The Rifle/Silt/New Castle Community Development Project began earlier this year when residents in and around these communities realized that drilling in their neighborhoods was inevitable given the gas reserves in the county, current state regulations, and the nation's insatiable demand for natural gas.
Organized under the auspices of the Grand Valley Citizens Alliance, community members began talking with Antero Resources, which has purchased leases in the area, to encourage them to work with neighborhoods and communities in crafting their drilling plans, not just surface and mineral owners.
The resulting plan recommends clustering drilling on pads spaced from 640 to 160 acres apart. Clustering would minimize construction of roads, pipelines and other accouterments of drilling and thereby lessen impacts. The plan would also include best management practices for natural-gas drilling such as placing pipelines alongside or in existing roads, piping water to wells rather than trucking it in, and installing equipment to reduce toxic emissions, reduce noise and light. Drilling rigs would also be at least 500 feet from the nearest homes.
Antero Resources has adopted this collaboratively created plan, and citizens are beginning talks with other gas operators as well as local governments.
You can view a PDF version of the document, which is still a working draft, at www.hmccolorado.org/GVCAPLAN-11-2005.pdf