Bruce Bertram, local governmental designee for Delta County, has made presentations on his duties related to oil and gas development in the area to town councils in Paonia, Hotchkiss and Crawford. The presentations were almost identical, and varied just in the amount of time he was given to make his presentation.
He and the county commissioners wanted the trustees to understand that, "Although not seen and very seldom realized by the public, Delta County continually monitors all oil and gas activity in the county with regular on-site visits/inspections" and that this is "something the county has done since 2002."
Of course, 2002 is the year Gunnison Energy Corporation announced that it wanted to drill a number of exploratory wells in the upper North Fork Valley and Surface Creek.
Bertram reports to and advises the county commissioners on gas development. The local governmental designee (LGD) also is to be "available to the public for any questions about oil and gas operations in Delta County, proposed changes or additions in adjacent county, state or federal oil and gas regulations, mineral and surface owner issues concerning oil and gas operations, split estate and access, other oil and gas leasing, exploration or development issues."
Delta County's Specific Development Regulations provide for the LGD to have access to oil and gas facilities and operations to make sure they are in compliance. The LGD "shall preserve the confidentiality of any proprietary information which becomes known to him." Similarly, the county complies with confidentiality requirements of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC).
"The county felt it was very important to be on the ground and do inspections and see that the regulations that existed ... whether county, state or what have you, that they were being watched and they were being adhered to by the operators doing oil and gas operations," Bertram said. He noted that some new regulations have been added even though they already existed, but enforcement of them had been lacking.
Bertram reports "any observed violations of the COGCC's regulations or permit requirements directly to the COGCC." Bertram said, "The few issues reported in the past have been timely addressed and reviewed by the COGCC inspectors and/or commission."
Concerning LGD responsibilities, "Some of the following LGD opportunities with the COGCC rules and regulations are not specifically available for sites located on Federal Surface (Forest Service/Bureau of Land Management)."
LGD responsibilities cover the application for permit to drill (APD) including directional and horizontal wells. He can request consultation prior to any (APD) and can make comments. The LGD can request the COGCC involve/consult with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
The LGD can request consultations or a variance concerning public water systems and other issues.
Bertram is notified by the COGCC of any application for increased well density and can request a public forum to consider impacts.
He can file protests, interventions and participate in adjudicatory proceedings.
The LGD can participate in development of comprehensive drilling plans (CDP).
He is given notice and it is published in local newspapers of geographic area plans for a basin.
Bertram participates in state agency rule making and has early involvement with the federal agency permitting processes.
Bertram noted that Mother Nature does not respect man-made boundaries. Sometimes one person owns both surface and mineral rights. There can be separate owners of the mineral and surface rights. Split estate means one party owns surface rights and someone else, whether another private owner or the federal government, owns the mineral rights.
Fracking and horizontal drilling have greatly increased the economic viability of oil and gas development in the United States. Bertram has a separate presentation on fracking that he would like to present to the councils or during town work sessions.
Bertram said the number of permits requested to drill is usually greater than the number of wells actually started. COGCC has an online chart showing how many permits and starts were done in 1992 through present. For Delta County there were zero permits and starts in 1992, seven permits granted in 2002 but no starts, four permits in 2003 and five starts, five permits in 2004 and four starts, 10 permits in 2005 and six starts, nine permits and five starts in 2006, two permits and two starts in 2007, zero permits and starts in 2008 and 2009, four permits and four starts in 2010, three permits in 2011 and one start, eight permits in 2013 and one start.
There has been far less oil and gas activity in Delta County than in Mesa, Garfield and Weld counties.
Municipal and county coordination will be needed on county wide issues when there are increases in oil and gas activity. The county commissioners are working on a draft of a county wide road impact fee. There must be notifications of updates, events and spills. Land uses and conflicts concerning water, air and traffic must be addressed. The COGCC has 2008 watershed regulations for municipalities. This can lead to greater scrutiny on watershed protections. Paonia, Hotchkiss and Crawford have Source Water Protection Plans. Another factor is whether the North Fork alternative to the BLM Resource Management Plan (RMP) will be accepted and approved. Bertram said trustees should look carefully at the layering of impacts of the various components in the alternative plan.blog comments powered by Disqus