Thursday, October 25, 2012

Huerfano County Commissioner candidates respond to CHC's oil and gas development questions

On October 11, 2012, each candidate was given the following 8 questions, and asked to use no more than 200 words, at their discretion, to answer all of them by noon on October 19. CHC already had agreement from one of the local newspapers to publish the results, but only if we could hold to a 1200 word limit. That gave us 200 words for the intro and all the questions, and it gave each of the five candidates 200 words. The candidates were clearly informed that they would be cut off after 200 words. (We also offered the candidates the opportunity to write a second, lengthier set of responses to one or more or all the questions, which we are publishing here, but no candidates took this option.)

Here are all five candidates' responses, in their entirety, including the words beyond the 200-word limit that were deleted to meet the newspaper's word limit. Look for the three dots (elipses) … to see where the three candidates were cut off for the newspapers.

Answers are coded JA (Joe Albano), LB (Lonnie Brown), RG (Ray Garcia), MV (Max Vezzani), NV (Nick Vigil).

1. Will you appoint a local government designee (LGD) to interface between the public and the Colorado Oil and Gas Commission (COGCC)?
 JA - Yes. A panel of three is more appropriate. All Districts should be represented.
 LB - Yes.  An active LGD is essential.  If county revenues increase from O/G production, more    time would be budgeted toward LGD.
 RG - I am now researching the duties of the LGD as to how that interfaces with COGCC. It is the responsibility of COGCC to keep the public informed and I understand that the LGD is only a go-between to help the COGCC keep the public informed. I need to be better informed before I can fully answer this question.
MV - I support selection of a qualified volunteer to work in concert with Planning and Zoning to serve as the Local Government Designee.
NV - Yes I will appoint a LGD. Why? because local governments are strongly encouraged to appoint LGDs with knowledge and experience with the oil and gas industry. LGDs are encouraged to visit regs and understand the workings of the industry. Operators are strongly encouraged to contact the LGD prior to filing Form 2a to determine if substantive concerns relative to public safety, health, welfare or impacts to the environment exist. So I think this is a vital position. COGCC - ensure that our permitting decisions consider and address local concerns through our local government designee program. I believe this person should be unbiased and take all the data and make prudent decisions. 
2. Do the benefits of fracking for oil and gas outweigh the risks? Y/N, explain
JA - No. In my opinion, The risks always outweigh the benefits. When we are dealing with people's lives, property, and generations of hard working families,  everything possible must be done to ensure the public's safety and livelihood. I want facts, and facts only, concerning fracking, and the immediate as well as long term impacts in our county.
LB - There is not yet enough information available from the deep mineral formations in Huerfano County to conclusively evaluate risks vs. benefits.
RG - If the benefits of fracing (there should not be a 'k' in the word) contaminate even one domestic well or public water source, then it's not worth it. If it increases energy supply without contamination, then it is worth it.
MV - Governor Hickenlooper stated 6,000 wells in Colorado have been hydraulically fractured without a known incident of contamination. I support the responsible development of our oil and gas resources if appropriate baseline water testing occurs. I do not support coalbed methane development with current technology.
NV - This question is being debated right now. I do think with our unique underground formations we should proceed with caution. Because of where we are at in the process, I think we should concentrate on making sure that we do all we can to make sure that it is done right, if not, mitigation mitigation mitigation.
3. How will you strengthen county oil and gas regulations?
JA - By working closely in a stubborn yet productive manner with the state regulatory agencies in regards to our County's interests.
LB - Continue search for methods to financially encumber O/G companies to any catastrophic damages.  Enact additional O/G regulations for CBM:  prohibit pits, require all produced CBM water to be purified and re-injected.
RG - The county oil and gas regs are already as stringent as they can be without usurping State regulations.
MV - County regulations are being revised by Planning and Zoning for recommendation to the County Commissioners. The County developed comprehensive oil and gas regulations based on other counties' experience and legal advice. I believe the County should work closely with state regulatory agencies and the Legislature to assure proper environmental concerns are addressed.
NV - By appointing a responsible LGD and working with the citizens of Huerfano county. We need to have communication with citizens to make sure all concerns are addressed so right now I'm not sure if …the benefits outweigh the risks, but if elected I will do everything in my power to make it as safe as possible. I will listen to the concerns of  the citizens. I WOULD LIKE TO SEE WHAT THE COUNTIES THAT ARE BANDING TOGETHER AGAINST FRACKING ARE DOING.
4. In April, Shell's water plan comes up for review. How and when will you involve the public in this process?
JA - Starting in January, meetings that pertain to this particular subject, as well as other important matters, will be held at one of the community centers where there is room to accommodate interested and involved citizens. There is no reason why the public should not have the proper access and conveniences of a open yet controlled environment.
LB - Huerfano County 1041 regulations allow for public input.
RG - Actually the review is due to the State DWR Division 2 Engineer 90 days before it's due for renewal. It's up to the Division Engineer to ask for public input, not the County.
MV - If "injury or impacts" result from Shell's proposed water supply plan, a public process would be appropriate and concerns forwarded to the State Engineer from the County.
NV - I  will invite the public to meetings on the water plan as soon as possible. We're all in this together. 

5. Will you hold interactive public meetings whenever a developer approaches the county about any type of industrial development, including oil and gas? Y/N
JA - Yes
LB - Yes.  Preliminary meetings should be held to explore new proposed industrial developments.  All meetings should be open and transparent. 
RG - Yes, I believe interactive meetings are required.
MV - Yes, major developments requiring either a conditional use or a 1041 regulation permit will receive public review and input.
NV - Yes, I will have interactive public meetings whenever any industrial development including oil and gas. No secrets -  the public has a right to know what's going on in their county. Communication is the key to success.
6. Will you disclose to local newspaper(s) any financial interest you have in any industrial development, including current oil and gas leases, and will you abstain from voting on such matters? Y/N
JA - Yes
LB - Yes.  I have no industrial development interests.
RG - I don't have any financial interest with any industrial development, and I will only abstain if there is a direct conflict of interest, otherwise the voters that elected me would not be well served if I were to abstain otherwise.
MV - Yes
NV -  Yes,  I will disclose to everyone any financial interest I have in any industrial development including oil and gas leases. I believe elected officials have a moral if not legal obligation to abstain from voting on such matters.

7. Will you advertise county-level job openings -- e.g., County Administrator, County Planner -- in local newspaper(s)? Y/N
JA - Yes
LB - Yes.  All county-level job openings will have standard equal opportunity --- job announcement with job duties, training or education requirements; standard selection process.  All transparent.
RG - Yes
MV - Yes
NV - Yes, I will advertise for all county job openings not just county land job openings, county administrator or county planner in both local newspapers, it's our duty to advertise job openings. I cannot see any reason not to advertise. This goes back to communication.
8. Will you put an immediate moratorium on oil and gas permits until EPA study results of Pavillion and River Ridge Ranch are known and until county regulations reflect these results? Y/N
JA - Yes
LB -  Recent reports of EPA testing at Pavilion indicate inconclusive or arguably flawed results.  Any moratorium imposed based on those results would have poor legal standing.  River Ridge:  Huerfano County should consider all CBM exploration as an already flawed process.  All CBM applications must be met with the position that all permits will contain the strictest water conditions possible.  All produced water will have to be purified and re-injected.
RG - Again, I don't… believe the County can usurp State rules and regulations.
MV - Hydraulic fracturing is a downhole issue and is the jurisdiction of State government. I support Governor Hickenlooper's effort to strengthen oil and gas regulations. The County should work with regulatory agencies and the legislature...when concerns warrant.
NV - I'm not sure that we have the power to put an immediate moratorium on oil and gas permits. In our meeting I will explore all options for the better of Huerfano county and its citizens. I will take the public's input on all decisions made by the BOCC. In closing I am for having citizens input on all oil and gas decisions.

Monday, October 15, 2012

CSU Well Water Sampling is back!

If you have a well and are interested in having your water quality tested, take advantage of this great opportunity and program being offered to Huerfano County by the Colorado Water Institute and CSU-Extension Pueblo.

Fall 2012 Sample Collection Dates:  
October 22 - November 9. 

Be sure of your well water quality.  CWI/CSU will follow proper Colorado Oil and Gas Association sampling and chain-of-custody protocols and adhere to EPA drinking water test protocols.

Colorado State University students and staff will be in Huerfano County to collect water well samples using Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA) Voluntary Baseline Groundwater Quality Sampling Program protocols for three weeks in October-November. The samples will be delivered to and analyzed by ACZ laboratories, an EPA certified laboratory in Steamboat Springs.

Three tiers of test packages are available: $350/$650/$950. By participating in this county-wide program -- one of the first to be offered in Colorado -- you will be receiving a bulk discount off the usual price of these lab tests, and the sampling work is offered by CWI/CSU for free. Your personal test results will be reported only to you and will be stored securely with the Colorado Water Institute.

By appointment only – sign up and pay by October 19

Signup sheets and information are now available at the La Veta and Spanish Peaks libraries and at the Wildflower Café in Gardner. 

Questions? Call (719) 545-1845 and ask about the "Huerfano County Well Water Sampling Project".

Well Water Testing Program for Huerfano County is sponsored by the Colorado Water Institute (CWI) and CSU Extension Program. 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

CSU Tests Huerfano County Residential Wells

CSU PUEBLOFaculty and students from Colorado State University-Pueblo Department of Chemistry, in collaboration with the Colorado Water Institute conducted their sampling program for private wells in Huerfano County between May 12 and June 21 of this year.

Dr. Perry Cabot, Prof. Dave Lehmpuhl and Prof. David Dillon supervised the program. A total of 31 wells were sampled for subsequent water quality analysis by ACZ Laboratories in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. To the right is a gross-scale map showing the spatial range of the sample locations.

Citizens for Huerfano County (CHC) proposed the baseline water testing project to the Colorado Water Institute due to the pending exploratory oil and gas drilling in Huerfano County and served as a local contact during the project. Dr. Cabot provided updates regularly via the public Shell-Huerfano Community Forum held monthly at the Community Center in Walsenburg.

The sampling protocol adhered rigorously to a peer-reviewed quality assurance project plan (QAPP) that was developed using the Voluntary Baseline Groundwater Quality Sampling Program document prepared by the Colorado Oil & Gas Association (COGA). Participants in the program were asked to select from three tiers of analysis for their water samples, with 42%, 35%, and 23% of well-owners opting for Tier 1, Tier 2, and Tier 3, respectively. Samples were collected by teams of three, each led by a CSU-Pueblo faculty member and assisted by two students, who helped to maintain records, prepare sample bottles and preserve chain of custody. After collection, samples were preserved in coolers at temperatures below 4°C (on ice or refrigerated) and driven overnight to the analytical laboratory in order to adhere to the 48 hour analysis window suggested by the Colorado Oil & Gas Association (COGA).

The results of the analyses are the sole property of the well owners, but the basic results can be generalized. Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) concentrations averaged 383 mg/L. The EPA secondary standard for TDS is 500 mg/L and 3 of the 31 samples exceeded this standard. The TDS level is basically the sum of all minerals, metals, and salts dissolved in the water. It is a good general indicator of water quality.

Another analysis of interest in the area is arsenic, which was undetected in all but one sample, which also did not exceed the maximum contaminant level (MCL) of 0.010 mg/L. Iron was not detected in 18 of the 31 samples, averaged 0.118 mg/L in detectable samples, and exceeded the secondary standard of 0.3 mg/L in one sample. Samples for methane were collected at each of the 31 wells using zero-headspace guidelines. Methane was undetected in 24 samples, averaged 2.45 mg/L in the remainder of samples, and exceeded 10 mg/L in one sample, for which the well owner was notified.

Although dissolved methane in drinking water is not currently classified as a health hazard for ingestion, the defined action level for hazard mitigation recommended by the US Office of the Interior is 10 mg/L.

Each well was also sampled for the presence of benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylenes (BTEX). With the exception of one sample which found toluene, BTEX concentrations were below the method detection limit (MDL) of 0.2 micrograms per liter (μg/L) in any of wells. The single toluene sample was only just slightly above this MDL and is considered satisfactory because it is less than the primary standard of 1000 μg/L.

Lastly, gross alpha emitters in the samples averaged 4.02 pCi/L with 2 samples slightly exceeding the primary standard of 15 pCi/L.

The Colorado Water Institute (CWI), an affiliate of Colorado State University, exists for the express purpose of focusing the water expertise of higher education on the evolving water concerns and problems being faced by Colorado citizens.

Eltschlager KK, Hawkins JW, Ehler WC, Baldassare F. 2001. Technical Measures for the Investigation and Mitigation of Fugitive Methane Hazards in Areas of Coal Mining. Pittsburgh: US Dept of the Interior, Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Citizens Lawsuit Against COGCC Moves to Next Phase

La Veta, CO - On Aug 1st, Citizens for Huerfano County (CHC) filed its briefing regarding judicial review in Denver District Court. The briefing asks the District Court to vacate a permit granted in June, 2011, by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) for the Klikus 2-19, a 14,000-foot-deep, hydraulically-fractured (fracked) natural gas well near La Veta Pass.
CHC attorney Julie Kreutzer argues a lack of due process, in that COGCC failed to notify the public of the Klikus application for permit, and that COGCC's hasty approval was arbitrary and capricious. In more than 300 pages of administrative records, CHC could find no evidence that the COGCC conducted the kind of thorough review it claims that it applies to every permit in order to meet its legislative mandate to protect public health, safety and the environment.

“This is a straightforward case, and one of the very few meaningful things happening right now in the state to address the concerns citizens have over granting drilling permits without adequate review,” said Kreutzer.

The District Court Judge will determine whether the permit was properly granted by reviewing the administrative record, CHC's briefing, and responses from the defendants: COGCC and Shell Western Exploration and Production Inc (SWEPI, a unit of Royal Dutch Shell). Huerfano County may also file a response, because it intervened in the case on the side of the COGCC and Shell.

Shell has indicated that it isn't interested in the Klikus well at this time, and recently received COGCC and Huerfano County permit approvals to drill four oil wells about 20 miles north of the Klikus site, near Gardner. These permits could be considered relatively "better" in that they have emission controls on all tanks and dehydrators, require tanks instead of pits, and are not for fracking (at least, not the first well, and not right away).

“CHC considered dismissing the Klikus case,” said CHC Vice President Sandy Borthick, “But if this case does not go forward, there is really nothing stopping Shell from developing the Klikus, and nothing stopping the COGCC from rubber-stamping more incomplete, inadequately reviewed permits in Huerfano County or elsewhere in the state.” 

It is important to hold Shell to meaningful standards to protect neighboring water wells and water resources,”  said CHC President, Keli Kringel. “It is also important that the COGCC review every permit carefully and insist upon commonsense protections for public health, safety and the environment.” 

"This permit, Shell's first here, poses real dangers,” added Kringel. "For example, Shell plans to dig a huge (225 ft x 110 ft x 14 ft deep)  fracking flowback pit in an intermittent streambed, and only 8 feet above the water table. This pit is a potential threat that was not addressed by the COGCC in its review of the permit."

Monday, July 16, 2012

County Commissioners to Vote on the 4 Shell Wells - Wednesday 10AM


Please attend the Huerfano Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) on July 18, 2012
at 10:00 AM at the courthouse in Walsenburg.

This meeting is critically important because the BOCC will be deciding whether to
approve conditional use permits (CUPs) for the four Shell oil wells in the Gardner area.

There is no public hearing on these permits.

Planning Commission (P&Z) has reviewed the CUPs and has recommended the BOCC
attach the following eleven conditions of approval to each CUP: (this is draft language,
not exact)

1. A $7,500.00 performance bond per well (or a $30,000 blanket bond for all four
wells), in addition to an agreement that Shell will maintain, repair or upgrade all
the roads it uses to county standards. This includes dust mitigation on all roads,
especially roads near residences

2. All wells shall use a closed loop system

3. Any dumpsters placed on the well site shall be bear-proof

4. The weed control plan shall include lands within 750 feet of the well site and
along all roads used by Sehll for drilling or hauling operations for the life of the

5. Noise mitigation measures shall be utilized at all well sites to meet minimum
standards set forth in the current Oil and Gas Regulations

6. No produced water may be used on county roads without first meeting the Clean
Water act and be approved by the State Health Department

7. Comply with Dark Sky policy by directing lighting away from residences

8. Notification shall e given to the County if fracking is to occur and should be
approved by the County

9. Failure to comply with any of these conditions may result in revocation of the

10. Any major changes to any well shall require notification to the county and
approval by the county

11. Construction must begin within one (1) year of permit approval

CHC supports these eleven conditions, and we hope that the commissioners will take
P&Z’s recommendation to attach them to each of the permits.

See you Wednesday 10:00AM at the Courthouse.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Bonnie Raitt Benefit to Support CHC!


Legendary singer Bonnie Raitt and her band will be performing at the Red Rocks
Amphitheater in Morrison, CO on Sunday August 26th. Bonnie will host a special benefit reception following the show in support of regional organizations that are working to protect Colorado from the threats of hydraulic fracturing to extract gas and oil. The organizations include Citizens for Huerfano County (CHC) and the GrassRoots EnErgy activist Network (GREEN).

Bonnie Raitt is touring again in 2012 after a two year respite and premiering her new
album Slipstream which was released this spring. She has an amazing 58 other
recordings. She is a nine-time Grammy winner and inductee into the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame. She is well known, long time social change activist and is a founding member of The Blues Foundation and Musicians United for safe Energy among others. Visit for more information on her tour dates, benefit history, discography and more.

Citizens for Huerfano County (, a CO non-profit, was one of the first grassroots groups to organize in response to the new oil and gas boom in Colorado, when, in June 2011, citizens became aware of a potentially massive (150,000 acres leased), oil and gas drilling/fracking play that could destroy the health of their communities, ecosystems, and unique cultural and historic values. CHC’s work has included: a legal battle requiring the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) enforce its own rules and claiming the people’s right to hearings in oil and gas matters that impact them, pressing for strengthening local and state oil and gas regulations, ongoing research, outreach and education, responding to new drilling applications, and helping communities prepare for and defend against oil and gas drilling impacts through initiatives such as well-adjudication and county-wide baseline water testing.

The GrassRoots EnErgy activist Network (GREEN), a project of the Renewable
Communities Alliance (, provides strategic legal,policy and media support to a growing number of communities impacted by oil and gas drilling/fracking in Colorado. GREEN has worked with grassroots groups across the state including Erie Rising, Longmont ROAR, Commerce City/Adams County United
NOW, Elbert County Oil and Gas Interest Group (ECOGIG), WTFrack!?, Routt County
Frack, Colorado Springs/El Paso County, Denver and Boulder Community Rights
groups and others fighting to protect communities or even ban the dangerous practice of hydraulic fracturing in CO.

The Guacamole fund has worked with Bonnie and other members of the musicians’
community for over 35 years for peace with justice, the environment and a non nuclear future. More information is available at, and

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Joint Public Hearing - On Shell Water Plans - August 7

This announcement just came from the Huerfano County P&Z:

A joint public hearing will be held by the Board of County Commissioners and the Planning Commission of Huerfano County, at 2:00 P.M. on Tuesday, August 7, 2012 at the Huerfano County Community Center, located at  928 Russell Ave, Walsenburg, Colorado.

The purpose of this meeting is to take public comment on the following HB-1041 applications submitted by Shell Exploration & Production Company:

  • No: 12-015, this application is for the construction of an earthen storage pond to be located on 15 acres of the Thorne Ranch in Section 3 & 4 of Township 27 South, Range 68 West of the 6th P.M.
  • No: 12-016 this application for the temporary change of decreed water usage from Agricultural to Industrial, and to dry up 15 acres of irrigated land located where the said earthen storage pond will be constructed.
The applications can be reviewed at the Huerfano County Land-use Office, 401 Main Street, Suite 103, Walsenburg, Colorado during normal office hours.

Inquires will be answered at the following telephone number (719) 738-1220 extension one.

Published: July 5, 2012

Sunday, June 10, 2012

CHC Questions District 2 Democratic Primary Candidates

Lonnie Brown and Ken Schneider are running in the primary on June 26 to be the Democratic candidate for District 2 County Commissioner. Recognizing the importance of the issue of oil and gas exploration in Huerfano County, Citizens for Huerfano County (CHC) developed the following questions for the candidates. Only four of the questions and answers were published in the newspaper. The numbers of those questions are shown in parentheses after the question below.

1) Do you feel that the current oil and gas regulations of Huerfano County would be improved with one or more of the enclosed Seven Safeguards? Yes/No: elaborate

Brown: Yes: Huerfano County should further review and consider the following:
Bonding: Bonding requirements at both the County and State levels should be reviewed and strongly considered for up-grading to more commensurate and realistic levels that reflect present day values and risk potential.
Water Quality: Huerfano County’s new oil/gas regulations that were recently adopted address “Water” in section 8.2.38 (e) under “Environmental quality standards”. Even though frack and drill chemicals are addressed to some degree, water quality is not specifically addressed. This section should be re-visited with the intent to strengthen it in terms of water quality. The handling and disposal of produced water should also be dealt with.
Air Quality: A plan should be initiated to develop an air quality testing program to be in place in the county before the production phase of oil/gas development if it progresses to that point. Other counties (like Garfield) have on-going air quality testing programs in place.
Pitless/Closed Loop: I would prefer that all drilling operations in Huerfano County be pitless. We should work toward that end. Under the existing regulations, there must be careful review of the environmental setting of each proposed drill location to “red-flag” potential hazards. COGCC can require closed loop systems on locations where the operation of a pit would create a potential for significant adverse impacts. However, they appear to fall back on the use or requirement of a “lined pit” as the acceptable answer. Until we can reach a total pitless program, we must be as strict as possible on the complete removal of all waste products, produced water, and pit liners.

Flaring: The county and CHC should combine with other counties to urge the State to adopt the EPA’s New Source Performance Standards for oil/gas operations (specifically NSPS Subpart 0000). Once this is in place, the State would have primary enforcement authority which would trigger stronger controls, including the use of combustion devices and phasing in of emission completions or “green completions

Schneider: Yes: All of them. Mitigation should be increased. The $25,000 agreed to is inadequate. Shell Oil would even improve public relations by posting a bond. Disclosure of proprietary chemicals is covered only in cases of medical emergencies. I support the General Land Use Regulations and Procedures of Huerfano County; it’s on the county web site. Under Regulations for Areas & Activities of State Interest, number 7 states: “Regulate projects that would otherwise cause excessive noise, water, and/or pollution, or which could otherwise degrade or threatens the existing environmental quality within Huerfano County.” Safety First!

2)  An oil and gas drilling boom would be good Huerfano County. Yes/no: elaborate.  (Published in the papers as #1).

Brown: Yes: A moderate “boom” could have positive financial impacts for Huerfano County. Oil/gas drilling and production would provide jobs, income to local businesses, and increased revenue toward taxing districts. Since we are still in the exploratory phase, it is too early to predict any degree of “boom” level. We must, however, carefully address the “Boom & Bust” potential. I like the idea and program that was recently presented by Dale Lyons --- to try to reduce the impacts of both boom and bust. I would encourage the formation of a Task Force to work on this to help make our county better prepared.

Schneider: Yes and no: There are no guarantees with oil and gas, there are risks. The reality is that International markets can change, planning for the economy, protection of the environment and economic diversity to name a few. In Colorado 75% of its citizens use natural gas. There are about 40,000 gas and oil wells in production. Severance tax is levied on any extraction of metals, coal and oil and gas. These create huge revenues. The economic impact of the oil and gas industry on Colorado and the U.S. economies supply about 63% of the nation’s energy and is estimated to be worth over one trillion dollars or 7-8 % of U.S. GDP. We are still living in the Carbon era, trying to transition to greener and a more renewable form of energy. We can reduce our carbon footprint and be responsible parents, educators and adults by supporting the transition to a cleaner form of energy. We are not there yet. My hope is that if there is a discovery that this exploration becomes a model of safety.

3)  The current Huerfano Board of County Commissioners intervened in the Citizens for Huerfano County lawsuit against Shell and the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) concurring with Shell's motion to dismiss CHC's claims, which ask for :

  • A) A public hearing in front of the COGCC,

  • B) A redo of a flawed permit to drill including failure to officially contact the Local Government Designee (LGD), John Galusha,

  • C) Compensation for legal expenses.

This case may continue into 2013. What legal position would you take as commissioner?

Brown: I have not been briefed on or been privy to the legal decisions and detailed reasons that led to the BOCC taking the action they did. If elected, my first action would be to be exposed to and updated on all those decisions and details. If the case is still pending in 2013, my legal position and subsequent action would depend on that information learned. Future potential for lawsuits of this nature would be greatly reduced or eliminated by proper and aggressive usage of the LGD position.

Schneider: I would ask that all of the above be heard and that we strengthen our local regulations so we can enforce and regulate the oil and gas industry in regards to safety.


4) Recently, Mike King, head of the Division of Natural Resources which oversees the COGCC, said that the LGD plays a critical role as an interface between the public, the county commissioners, and the COGCC. As commissioner, how would you instruct the LGD to perform that role? (Published in the papers as #2).

Brown:  As commissioner, I would strongly encourage the rest of the BOCC to fully utilize the LGD position as the direct link between the County and COGCC. The LGD should take aggressive action at the local level to keep the public informed about any new activity coming to the county to ensure transparency. The LGD should be the county respondent to COGCC to provide immediate local level knowledge or information in the event of any “red-flag” items or issues that may be crucial in the initial stages of a new permit application to COGCC. In addition, the LGD should supply to COGCC any and all critical and pertinent County conditions that would be attached on a new permit application to the county by an oil/gas developer. These county conditions can be attached to the state permit --- thus making them stronger. The LGD position would have to be assigned to someone with adequate time to address the needs and requirements of the job.

Schneider:  The LGD should be a proactive force and interact with the COGCC, oil and gas and citizens of the county. The LGD is the go-between.  I would ask the LGD to convene a meeting with the various parties in order to get feedback from all parties in order to know what is going on. As I have stated, the county website should be updated to provide citizens the right to interact and allow their local government to be transparent via a blog so as to get immediate responses to any issue. Additionally, the LGD should hold regular meetings regarding important oil and gas topics.


5) In Colorado there is legal tension between state and county regulations regarding oil and gas development. Some feel that the state should 'preempt' local government. Others feel that local government plays a necessary role in addressing particular regulations that are unique to each county. Please describe your position on this issue as a commissioner in Huerfano County. (Published in the papers as #3).

Brown: I am a firm believer in law and order. I don’t believe in opposing laws, regulations, rules or policies just because it doesn’t fit one’s personal agenda. However, our world is dynamic and ever-changing. If a law or regulation is found to be weak or can be proven to be in need of change, there are processes in place to do that. In county vs. state authority, those issues that are of statewide concern should be under State authority. If issues are truly unique and localized, they should be administered locally.
Schneider: Governor Hickenlooper’s Executive Order: B 2012-002, provides in Section C4: changes to existing laws and regulations and C5: suggested new laws and regulations, might provide a possible venue to strengthen local control via legal means. Local control gives authority to localities to provide more accountability and meet their specific needs. It is a cornerstone for education in the state of Colorado.

6)  According to the US Geological Service, Huerfano County is a "blank spot on the map in terms of hydro-geology”. Poor hydro-geo understanding led to huge problems with coalbed methane extraction in the Huerfano. If elected, would you request a county wide hydro-geology study? Yes/no. (Published in the papers as #4).

Brown:  Yes: Huerfano County should have complete information in terms of hydrogeology.

Schneider:  Yes

Would you vote for a moratorium until that study was finished? Yes/no: elaborate

Brown: (no answer to yes/no): Before I would commit to a moratorium, I would want answers to these questions:
   1. Who or what entity would conduct the study?
   2. How long would the study take to complete?
   3. Who would pay for the study?
If the funds were from a source other than Huerfano County, and if the project were to be conducted by a reliable entity or agency, and the time frame could be guaranteed to be reasonable without violating rights of landowners/mineral owners or exposing Huerfano County to lawsuits, then a moratorium could be considered.

Schneider: Yes


7)  Besides possible contamination issues, are there other risks to energy extraction here in Huerfano County? Yes/no: elaborate

Brown: Yes: There are other potential risks, including, but not necessarily limited to the following. There is potential for split estate issues. County officials should follow closely the possibility of the potential for conflicts in cases where the mineral rights are severed from the surface ownership. Huerfano County should keep this potential problem at the forefront in discussions with Shell or any other oil/gas developer, and should actively encourage and assist with mitigation or other resolution.
Other potential risks would include law enforcement concerns with the influx of transient workers; traffic concerns with the increase in usage on the county road system, increased vehicle accident potential, and thus increased need for medical/emergency responders.
If, in the event, the exploratory phase indicates increased drilling and production may be eminent, Huerfano County should take aggressive action and develop plans to be better prepared to reduce those potential impacts or risks. The BOCC should take the lead to ensure protection and reduce risks to the county.

Schneider: Yes: “A significant body of literature shows that boomtowns can harbor disproportionate increases in social problems such as crime, mental health problems, community dissatisfaction, education shortfalls, and other indicators. Research shows that certain groups of people will have different social reactions to rapid growth, depending on their stature in the community and whether they were residents before the growth occurred.” Source: Energy Boomtowns & Natural Gas: NERCRD Rural Development Paper No. 43.

Update on Petition and Public Comment to COGCC on Shell Wells

There is still a way to comment to the COGCC on the Shell applications TODAY ONLY 6/10/12 (probably until midnight).  On 8 of the 12 total application forms, the public input shows as "waived" already, but there are still 4 that show as "active" until 6/10/12 - that is those that were incidentally "posted" later on 5/21 instead of 5/18, starting the 20-day public input clock later. Between the permits and the location assessments, there is still one open today on each well. See this blog post for how to comment. Kudos to those who have taken the time to figure it out, navigate the site and submit comments!

Did we get the additional 10-days requested in the petition? In short, no.  There was a very strong flood of response to the petition, much more than we expected. The comments were great.  If you want to read them, they are at the bottom of the "About this petition" tab on the petition.  There were over 600 signatures, roughly 75% in Colorado, and 50% of those were from Huerfano County. Thank you to all who signed and spread the word!    Nevertheless, the answer has still been "no", "no", "no", or silence, on our requests for 10 more days. We have not taken the petition down just yet, but it is looking like another public input period will come and go without any meaningful communication between the government representatives and the people -- it's not for our lack of trying!!!  

CHC Public Comments on the SWEPI APDs were submitted --- under the wire --- on 6/7 and got posted to their website by the COGCC:  

Hydrogeological Concerns in Huerfano Park:

Comments on the Shell Western Exploration and Production, Inc. (SWEPI) Fortune 4-9, Freeman 3-24, Seibert 3-8, and State 2-36 Applications for Permit to Drill, submitted by Ceal Smith on behalf of the Citizens for Huerfano County:

Substantive Review of SWEPI’s Huerfano County APDs: Fortune 4-9, State 2-36, Seibert 3-8, and Freeman 3-24:

What's next? 
  • We would like a response from the COGCC on the points we raised. 
  • People should also ask Shell:  Which of these 4 wells is the one SWEPI plans to drill this fall?  They have said they are only drilling one this year in the forum.  Is there a good reason not to inform us which one it is?  
  • We believe the county Conditional Use Permit applications from Shell have just arrived at the County Planners desk.  
  • Don't forget to vote!  The Democratic primary ballots for county commissioner are due in on June 26! See candidate Oil and Gas questionnaire on this blog, here.

Fractures, faults, and fracking in Huerfano

This article is relevant to fracking here in Huerfano County given Huerfano's varied, deep geology containing many faults and fractures in addition to dikes (the dikes themselves may also form conduits to surface aquifers). 

US DOE testing for links between faults, groundwater pollution

"Speaking at a congressional briefing in Washington, Hammack said faults "form a plane that allows fluids to move up through the frack." Some faults can be easily seen and avoided, but Hammack said some faults are not easily detected and could extend from the Marcellus Shale formation into other formations close to the surface."

This is why we need no hydraulic fracturing in Huerfano until a hydrogeological study is completed.

SWEPI (Shell) has already told us they will not frack the first well in the forum and in the newspapers.  Now, on all their drilling plans it even states:  "Frac'ing or additional reservoir stimulation methods will not be applied to this first exploration well."  (See bottom of page 2 here for example). Is that a guarantee for all 4?  It should be a Condition of Approval on all the permits from the COGCC.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Public Input Time Expired?

Today is the day the public input period is supposed to expire on the Shell wells. We have not heard about a 10-day extension. Can you still comment? As long as the Public Task is still Yellow and Active on the COGCC task list, you can still post a comment. (See blog post below for what this means and how to do it. )

You can still sign the petition too!  Petition Here

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


On Friday, May 18th Shell Western Exploration and Production, Inc. (SWEPI), a unit of Royal Dutch Shell, filed 8 Applications for Permit to Drill (APD's) for 4 well locations in Huerfano County stretching from north of Gardner to Major's Ranch/Yellowstone Road (see blog post below SHELL WELL ALERT: 4 APDs IN GARDNER AREA for location maps). COGCC Public Input DEADLINE: June 7th Unless John Galusha requests the 10-day extension! > Sign the PETITION HERE  for Galusha to request more time!


GO to the COGCC website :

1) Click the PERMITS link in the left menu bar.
2) Enter "HUERFANO" in "All Pending Applications for ______________ County" (Click 'Go!').

This will pull up all 8 well applications. The 8 applications are actually only for 4 wells.  The names of the wells are, from north to south: Fortune 4-9, State 2-36, Seibert 3-8, Freeman 3-24.  There are 2 applications for each well because SWEPI is drilling two different holes in each well and did an application for each hole (each drilling plan) separately.  The two holes are the Pilot Hole going straight down (Drilling Plan) and the "Toe Up" Hole which goes down and then outward and hooking upward (kind of like the toe of an elf's boot?) (Deviating Drilling Plan).

3)  Click  on the Well Name/Number (Document Link) to pull up all well documents.

Well documents include Form 2 Applications, Basic Maps, and Drilling Plans. Be sure to scroll to the bottom of each document because many have multiple pages. For example, at the end of all of the DRILLING PLANs and DEVIATED DRILLING PLANs is a statement by Shell that they won't be fracking these wells. Can we believe it?

In addition to permits, there are Location Assessments. To view the Location Assessments:

4) Again, click the PERMITS link in the left menu bar.
5) Enter "HUERFANO" in "All Pending Location Assessments for ______________ County" (Click 'Go!').
6)  Click  on the Location Name/Number (Document Link) to pull up all location documents.

Location documents include Form 2A Application (Location Assessment), Hydrology/Road/Reference Maps, Pictures, Construction Plans, Location Drawings, Correspondence, and Other.

Note, if these applications are approved, they will be moved on the PERMITS page from Pending to Approved for HUERFANO County.


Where should I post my comments?  The COGCC provides a space for Public Input on their website, which takes a bit of navigation to get to.  If you have comments or information on a specific location, put them on the Location Assessment for that well or wells. If you have general comments or concerns on the Drilling, put them on the Permit for that well or wells.

To get there:

1) Follow the steps above except instead of clicking under the Document Link column, click under the Status or Status (eForm Link) column. 
2) A Login page will come up. Do nothing, it will automatically log you in if you wait.
3) To see the permitting tasks in process click the colored bar under "Tasks"
4) To comment, click on the "Comment" button. 
5) Click "New Comment". 
6)  Enter the weird stuff you see in the box and click "Verify Text". 
7) The Comments page should come up and allow you to comment.
8) Be sure to click "Save" before leaving the page!

 Hint:  Copy and paste your comment and save it separately before you click "Save" on the site.  When you click "Save" on the site, it will disappear, and not appear on the site until the COGCC posts it. 

Email or Fax a copy of your comments to the COGCC Acting Director, Thom Kerr
Fax:  303-894-2109
Be sure to reference the specific well or wells by Name/Number (above) you are commenting on.
Postal Mail will probably not arrive by deadline, but here is the address:
Thom Kerr, Acting Director
Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission
1120 Lincoln Street, Suite 801
Denver, CO  80203
Please email a copy to us at 


We recommend speaking about what you know, think, or feel, in your own words.  Personal knowledge from people who live in the area is valuable. That said, here are some points CHC emphasizes and you should feel free to include in your comments as you see fit. 

In keeping with CHC’s  mission to protect the health, safety, welfare and environment from the effects of oil and gas development in Huerfano County, please write and/or email the COGCC and ask:

1. Before oil and gas permits are granted in the Huerfano river drainage, a thorough hydrogeological study of the area, including field work (not just a literature review) shall be accomplished. Oil and gas drilling permits shall not be granted until it has been determined that drilling and fracking will not adversely impact water resources, as has already happened in the other three Raton Basin drainages (Cucharas, Purgatiore and Apishapa).

2. Attach as a condition of approval (COA) to all permits to drill in Huerfano Park, No Hydraulic Fracturing. On the applications (Drilling Plan last sentence) and in communications with the public - SWEPI has indicated that hydraulic fracturing will not be used on the proposed wells: "Frac'ing or additional reservoir stimulation methods will not be applied" Due to its complex and unique geology, Huerfano County is a high risk environment. Fracking in these locations has a high probability of resulting in unintended consequences including irreversible impacts on surface and groundwater resources. Please make the claim a condition of approval.

3. Attach as conditions of approval (COA) to all permits to drill in Huerfano Park, that only closed-loop, pitless drilling and pitless operations with non-toxic drilling and fracking chemicals and green completions shall be allowed.

4. Attach as conditions of approval (COA) to all permits to drill in Huerfano Park, that raw produced water from drilling, fracking, completion or production shall not be stored in ponds, spread on roads or grounds.

5. Attach as conditions of approval (COA) to all permits to drill in Huerfano Park,  that air emissions be controlled to the maximum extent technically possible.  For example, that all air emissions shall be controlled by a device capable of 95-100% control efficiency of VOC. The device(s) shall be maintained to allow maximum efficiency during operations.

6. Attach as conditions of Approval to all permits to drill in Huerfano Park, that baseline water samples shall be taken, at least 60 days prior to activity at any well site, of all domestic, community and livestock water wells and springs, of the intake to all municipal waterworks, and of all other creeks and surface run-off areas, within 5 miles in all directions. The water samples shall be gathered according to the COGA protocols and analyzed according to the Tier 2 analyte list published in the Colorado Water Institute’s Water Well Testing Program for Huerfano County.  

7. Attach as conditions of approval (COA) to all permits to drill in Huerfano Park, that the applicant shall post a bond, escrow account or liability insurance policy of sufficient monetary value to fully compensate local citizens and communities for any damage to their air, water, health, safety, environment or property values.

8. Additionally, Huerfano County is well known for its unique and complex geology, including numerous radial dikes that extend for miles through multiple geological strata (and are not all visible on the surface). Dikes, sills, faults and fractures are deep, transmissive, and the details of their connections to aquifers are not known except possibly through 3-D seismic data Shell may have collected. CHC requests COGCC examine the data to establish that there is NO possibility of connection between SWEPI well-bores or fractures and natural fractures or dikes that communicate with aquifers.

9.  Additionally, because of its close proximity to the Huerfano River and the Gardner Community drinking water wells, the area surrounding Fortune 4-9 should be given protection under Rule 317B, Public Water System Protection criteria.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

CHC Petition: Don't Rush Approval of Shell Drilling in Huerfano County

CHC has launched a petition to ask Huerfano County's Local Government Designee, John Galusha, to give citizens 10 more days to review and respond to the 4 (8?) Shell Applications to Drill.  Recently, the governor's task force on oil and gas drilling in CO determined that the Local Government Designee shall serve as the link between the people and the state/industry, creating accountability and bringing the concerns of the people to the state. So far, here in Huerfano, since the filing of the 8 Shell well applications 2 weeks ago, our commissioners and LGD have, in consultation with the COGCC, denied our formal requests to step up to the task, and have now even refused to simply ask for the 10 day extension for comment which it is their responsibility to do.  We need more time to review these multiple applications in sensitive areas and raise our concerns.  The deadline is now Wednesday 6/6.  This lack of local and public voice continues to be an issue for Colorado as well as Huerfano County. 


Thanks friends!

Letter to County Commissioners - May 29

May 29, 2012 --- via email and postal mail

Board of County Commissioners of Huerfano County
401 Main St.
Walsenburg, Colorado 81089

Dear Commissioners Bobian, Cain and King,

As you know, Shell has filed four applications for permit to drill (APDs) for oil along the La Veta syncline in the Gardner area. You are also aware of our recent requests to County Administrator John Galusha, in his capacity as Local Government Designee:

1. for public notice, in the local newspapers and to an email list set up for this purpose, as soon as he is notified by the COGCC of all APDs in Huerfano County

2. for him to hold a public meeting on new APDs, early in the public comment period, to gather public concerns to be communicated by the LGD to the COGCC

3. for him to ask the COGCC for a 10-day extension to the public comment period on these new Shell APDs, currently set to expire June 7, 2012.

In response to our requests, Mr. Galusha said that he consulted with the COGCC’s acting director, Thom Kerr, and was instructed to deny these requests, and that, at the May 23, 2012 BOCC meeting, you all concurred with Mr. Kerr’s recommendation. However, we also understand that Mr. Kerr’s boss, Mike King -- executive director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources and head of Governor Hickenlooper’s recent oil and gas regulation task force --  says that “The LGD is the person who takes the requests, concerns and comments of local citizens to the attention of the COGCC. They answer to their local government board or commission, so the position is not merely a figurehead,” says King. “The LGD is the key to a robust process for us.”  (source:  )

We write to you, as our elected commissioners, asking that you direct Mr. Galusha to fulfill his duties as Local Government Designee, including the above three requests, and that you also direct him to: 

4.  ask the COGCC for a CDPHE consultation on the Fortune well site, which is upstream less than five miles from the Gardner community water wells.

We would appreciate your action as soon as possible, and a written response to this request.

Thank you for your consideration,

Board of Directors
Citizens for Huerfano County
P.O. Box 1193
La Veta, CO 81055-1193

cc: Mike King, Thom Kerr, Lt. Gov Joe Garcia, Huerfano World Journal, La Veta Signature

Letter to Mike King - May 29

May 29, 2012 – via email and postal mail

Mike King
Executive Director, Colorado Department of Natural Resources
1313 Sherman Street, Room 718
Denver, Colorado  80203

Dear Mr. King,

Your vision of the local government designee (LGD) as “the person who takes the requests, concerns and comments of local citizens to the attention of the COGCC” and “the key to a robust process” is nowhere near reality down here in Huerfano County. (source:  )

Last year, as you may recall, our LGD was not even informed by the COGCC of the Klikus well APD, and when he did learn of it, and of our anger over the public comment period being waived without our knowledge, he and our Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) refused to ask the COGCC for a public hearing on our behalf.  This year, our LGD was apparently informed of the four new Shell APDs in the Gardner area, but once again, he and the BOCC seem to want nothing to do with helping the public learn about or comment on these important local developments. 

After we requested that the LGD inform the public and host a public meeting to gather input on new APDs to take to the COGCC on our behalf, and for the extra ten days to provide public comment allowed by COGCC Rule 305c.,  the LGD told us he conferred with Thom Kerr, acting director of the COGCC.
Apparently Mr. Kerr told him (1) that LGD need not provide the public with any notice of APDs, (2) that the LGD need not hold any kind of meeting to gather public input to take to the COGCC on behalf of the public, and (3) that the LGD need not ask the COGCC for an extension to the public input period when asked by the public to do so.  Our requests were denied by unanimous BOCC action on May 23.

We are writing to ask you to address and resolve these three issues, in the spirit of the Governor’s recent task force on oil and gas regulation, and we are adding a fourth issue – (4) that the LGD also ask for a CDPHE consultation on the Fortune well site (one of the four new Shell filings), because it is less than five miles and directly upstream from the Gardner community water wells.

The 500 members of Citizens for Huerfano County appreciate your assistance in helping us to protect our health, safety, welfare and environment and we thank you in advance for your prompt attention to this matter. Please let us hear from you very soon.

Sandy Borthick, on behalf of
Citizens for Huerfano County

cc: Acting COGCC Director Thomas Kerr, Huerfano Board of County Commissioners, Colorado Lieutenant Governor Joe Garcia, Huerfano World Journal, La Veta Signature




Here are the locations:


Click to enlarge

FORTUNE 4-9 (37.801253, -105.223147)

Click to enlarge

STATE 2-36 (37.750078, -105.169544)

Click to enlarge

SEIBERT 3-8 (37.712842, -105.134039) 

Click to enlarge

FREEMAN 3-24 (37.684831, -105.067631) 

Click to enlarge

To see the detailed information and documentation on them go to the COGCC website :
1) Click the Permits link in the left menu bar.
2) Enter Huerfano County in both "Pending Applications" and "Location Assessments" to pull them all up
3) On EACH Click under Documents to read all the info about them


4) Click under eTask then Login and Comments to leave comments (or just email the COGCC directly).

That's a lot of reading and responding!    The Huerfano Local Government Designee to the COGCC (LGD), John Galusha, can, by the COGCC rules, ask the COGCC for a 10 day extension if he were so convinced ... so far we have not succeeded with that, but maybe you would have more success!

 The LGD is, according to the Governor's task force and the DNR, a key link between the public and the Oil and Gas Commission:
"One of the COGCC initiatives that task force members welcomed is the local government designee (LGD). While they won’t have any enforcement responsibility, the local designees can bring issues of concern directly to the COGCC.    'The LGD is the person who takes the requests, concerns and comments of local citizens to the attention of the COGCC. They answer to their local government board or commission, so the position is not merely a figurehead,” says King. 'The LGD is the key to a robust process for us.''"  (Mike King is the Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, under which the COGCC functions.)

Huerfano County LGD is John Galusha and his contact information is on the Huerfano County website:

Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions

Request to LGD for 10-day Extension - May 21

May 21, 2012 -- via email and hand delivered

To: John Galusha, Huerfano County Administrator and Local Government Designee
From: Sandy Borthick, on behalf of Citizens for Huerfano County

Re: Request 10-day extension for public comment on Shell COGCC filings

As you know, Shell recently filed eight applications for permit to drill (APDs, form 2) and accompanying location assessments (form 2A) for their four sites near Gardner. We have begun to review these documents, but are concerned that we will not have time to complete our review in the usual 20-day time frame allowed by the COGCC.

On our behalf, and in your capacity as local government designee, would you kindly request the 10-day extension so that we may complete our review and file substantive questions? 

Thank you for your consideration,

Sandy Borthick
on behalf of
Citizens for Huerfano County

Open Letter to LGD John Galusha - May 18

May 18, 2012

John Galusha
Huerfano County Administrator and Local Government Designee
401 Main St.Walsenburg, CO 81089

 Dear Mr. Galusha,

In a recent interview with Colorado’s Department of Natural Resources Executive Director Mike King,  we read about the important role you play as our local government designee (LGD). “The LGD is the person who takes the requests, concerns and comments of local citizens to the attention of the COGCC. They answer to their local government board or commission, so the position is not merely a figurehead,” says King.  “The LGD is the key to a robust process for us.”  If you haven’t already seen the article, you can read it at

Since Huerfano County is undeniably targeted for potentially large scale oil and gas development (the next Niobrara field?),  we want to be sure that this robust process is established, and that we can rely on you, as our LGD, to bring our requests, concerns and comments to the attention of the COGCC.  To this end, we make these practical requests:

1. Please inform the public as soon as you learn, and  in as much detail as possible, about any applications for permits to drill (APDs) in Huerfano County
  • The only way we have now to learn about these APDs  is by monitoring the COGCC website, and there is only a 20-day public  input period, unless you, as our LGD,  ask the COGCC for a 10-day extension.  Since you are notified by the COGCC, and the state clearly wants you to be the liaison with the people, could you please (1) post an alert in the newspapers and (2) put out an email notice  to those of us who would want to subscribe to an email list for this?  These notices should go out as soon as you receive the APD notice, and they should at  least  include: where the well is, what type of well (oil, gas, CBM) and whether it is to be hydraulically fractured, who the operator is, links to website(s) where we can get more information, and any other information you believe the public needs. Please also include information about how/where/when to contact you about the APD.  Which brings us to:

2. Please host a public forum early in the 20-day public comment period, to gather public questions, concerns and comments on each well APD
  • This meeting should be held during non-business hours and early enough in the 20-day public comment period  for you to (1) gather public input,  (2) determine if you need to request  the 10-day extension from the COGCC (by day 12) , and (3) decide whether to call for the CDPHE consultation (by day 14).  This meeting should be publicly announced along with the APD filing, in the same email, and in the same newspaper notice. 
We hope you agree that these process changes will help to allow meaningful participation by the people of Huerfano County in these matters which have the potential to dramatically affect our health, safety, welfare and environment. Please let us hear from you soon.

Citizens for Huerfano County
PO BOX 1193
La Veta, CO 81055-1193

Paper and email copies to: Huerfano Board of County Commissioners, Huerfano County Planning and Zoning Commission, Thom Kerr (Acting Director, COGCC), Mike King (Executive Director, Colorado Dept. of Natural Resources), Huerfano World Journal, La Veta Signature Newspaper

Public Input on Jenny C1 Well


Here is the Public Input that was given by CHC to the COGCC on the Jenny C1 well.

1. The Pit and Water/Soil ProtectionThe water table listed is only 14 feet and the hydraulic conductivity of the soils at the site at least "moderately high".  How will the COGCC ensure compliance of surrounding water and soils with the concentration levels in table 910-1? Pit liners are known to leak. Will there be baseline sampling and monitoring? Are additional requirements from 901.c appropriate?  They are probably not sufficient in this case.  Closed loop drilling should be used.  Otherwise, this pit creates a danger and a risk. Also, where is the pit application (Form 15)? What is going to be in the pit? What waste will there be and how will it be disposed of?

2. Baseline Water TestingThere appear to be about 3-4 water wells within approx. 1/2 mile of this site.  Given the other questions, it is important that they be tested.  Additionally, the Huerfano River is approx. 1/2 mile away and could be impacted.  Downstream testing would help monitor surface water pollution levels and ensure compliance.

3. Nearby Oil and Gas Wells in Same FormationForm 2 #19 has the distance to the nearest well permitted/completed in the same formation as 30 miles, and the proposed total measured depth is 2250. Impact Energy well Huerfano State 1-36 is about 500 feet away and it had 2,150 TVD. There are 4 wells (Huerfano State 1-36, HRI-BAR 35-1, Huerfano State 2-36, and Sporleder 1-26) within approx. 1 mile that have TVD of 1800-2330.  Please evaluate the accuracy of the application on this point, and examine the records of these nearby O&G wells to ensure they have integrity and pose NO risk in this case. 

4. Improvements/Canal Close to SiteForm 2A #15 says "There are no improvements within 400 ft of the site." Rule 303.d(3)C requires this information. Yet, there seems to be a canal to the south-southwest less than 400 feet away (see Google maps). Please evaluate the accuracy of the application on this point, and the implication of the canal so close.

5. Sensitive Area Non-Determination Form 2A #14 has "Is this a sensitive area?" = NO and "Was a Rule 901.e Sensitive Area Determination performed?" =  NO.  How can the operator claim this is not a sensitive area if the No Sensitive Area Determination has been made?  Is this a flaw in the application?

6. Sensitive Wildlife HabitatIn Form 2A #1 "This location is in a sensitive wildlife habitat area" is NOT checked, but a quick check of the COGIS maps indicates that it IS (for the Pronghorn).  Please evaluate the accuracy of the application on this point, and the implication of the SWH.

7. CDOW and CDPHEWhat did CDOW do and what information did they look at to assess the location before passing their Form 2A task?  What did CDPHE do and what information did they look at to assess the location before passing their Form 2A task?

8. Source of Certain Information on the Form 2AForm 2A (#6) has that salt sections and H2S are NOT expected to be encountered.  Form 2A And #10 and #11 Current/Future Land Use = "Dry land". How were these determined?

9. Aquifer ProtectionThe surface casing is planned to go 250' deep.  What is the location/depth of deepest aquifer, and where did the information come from?  Bedrock aquifers do exist in Huerfano county (see e.g. McLaughlin - USGS paper 1805).

10. Dikes/Faults/FracturesWhat are the locations of the deep dikes/fractures/faults in the vicinity?  These features create secondary hydraulic conductivity from depth to surface. They can be transmissive. Dikes are mapped on the surface (, but not all are visible on the surface.  They extruded from the magma and not all reached the surface. These features should be avoided.  What has been done to determine separation and barriers from these natural features (both during drilling and fracking) at the location?

11. Type of Well and Drilling Plan?Will this be a vertical well? There is no drilling plan diagram.  Also, is this well for oil, gas or CBM? "Gas" is checked in Form 2 #2, but the planned depth is comparable to prior CBM wells drilled in the county, and the Niobrara is being explored by SWEPI for oil. Given the problems with Petroglyph and CBM drilling, please be careful not to allow the same situation/problem to occur.

12. Will There Be Hydraulic Fracturing? Examination of the other oil and gas wells nearby (Impact Energy), shows there was no production. Will this well be hydraulically fractured?  There are no production pits listed. Would that mean 'no'? If it IS to be fracked, what is the depth and direction?  This would have to be known to evaluate in advance the presence of adequate frack barriers and lack of connectivity to natural fractures which can move fluids out of the target formation.