Monthly Archives: December 2005

Oil and gas planning from the ground up

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


Western cities embracing transit

Alan Best’s article in High County News (Back on Track, 11.14.2005) was a great piece on how several Western U.S cities are entering a new transportation paradigm — one focused on livability rather that traffic mitigation, and transportation options rather than exclusive reliance on roads and highways.

This is no small feat, like all Americans, Westerners love their cars, but local business, community and elected leaders are realizing that transit has an equally important role in their future.

The only thing missing in the article (and this is probably a space constraint rather than an oversight) was a recognition of the many non-governmnetal organizations (like the Transit Alliance in Denver) that helped build the transit vision and then did education and outreach to help in implementation. As the article illustrated, elected leadership and foward thinging planners are crucial to transit success, but with out organized commuity groups and non-profit organizations that can educate, advocate, and mobilize, transit efforts are missing the third leg of the stool of success.