Battlement Concerned Citizens and the Grand Valley Citizens Alliance have won the right to speak before the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission on two permits that would allow 53 natural gas wells to be drilled within their community.
“We applaud the COGCC for recognizing the right of impacted people to speak and provide testimony on a project that will drastically impact our lives for many years to come,” said Dave Devanney, chair of the Battlement Concerned Citizens.
“Throughout this whole process, we have only asked to be treated equally and to work for the protection and wellbeing of our community. Maybe that is not how they do things in Texas, where Ursa is based, but it’s good to know in Colorado fairness can prevail,” Devanney concluded.
When Ursa Resources requested a special hearing in April, GVCA and BCC asked to be recognized as “intervenors”- recognized stakeholders able to participate with full legal standing. Despite Ursa’s attempts to block resident’s participation, the COGCC today ruled against Ursa’s arguments that “residents are not acting in the public interest” and that their participation would “unfairly prejudice Ursa.”
In the order granting intervenor status, the COGCC dismissed Ursa’s claims as “groundless and frivolous,” stating “Ursa’s claim of ‘unfair prejudice’ being caused by BCC’s and GVCA’s presenting false evidence at the hearing to be without merit.”
The order also asserted the fundamental right of impacted landowners to participate in the hearing:
“Fundamental fairness dictates that BCC and GVCA be allowed to participate in the hearing….Since Ursa expects the commission to hear evidence from Ursa supporting the immediate approval of the Form 2s and Form 2as, it is only fair that the residents of Battlement Mesa who will be affected by Ursa’s operations be allowed to participate.”
“We have the right to speak out on land use and public health impacts such a large-scale industrial operation will have on our community, our property values and our health,” said Eleanor Nelson, a Battlement Mesa resident, in a written statement.
“We want responsible siting with no adverse impact on our drinking water or our air quality and not noise levels that will make serenity a distant memory. If this makes us lying activists, let the COGCC be the judge,” she concluded, referencing a comment Ursa Vice President Don Simpson made about community members who have been speaking out against the proposal.
“GVCA and impacted people in Garfield County have worked for decades to educate themselves about oil and gas development out of necessity,” said Leslie Robinson, chair of GVCA. “We have worked to present quality information throughout this process. We look forward to the opportunity to explain how this project will impact people’s lives and how it can be improved to protect people’s health and quality of life.”
The hearing on the Battlement Mesa permits is currently scheduled for July 18- 20 in Glenwood Spring