More drilling coming to Western Slope; Carbondale group seeking Thompson Divide ban

By David O. Williams
Real AspenJuly 20, 2010

Natural gas drilling activity appears to be on the upswing in the most drilled parts of the Western Slope.

According to the Glenwood Springs Post Independent, Denver-based Antero Resources, which is also planning a 200-well project in Battlement Mesa, will start drilling another 284 wells south of Silt in the late summer or early fall.

The paper reports officials in the nearby towns of Silt and New Castle have expressed concerns about traffic, emergency response and toxic spill notification (among other things) to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, which controls the 6,500 acres in question and completed an Environmental Assessment of the project on Friday.

“If they address those concerns, we’re probably happy. If they don’t, we’re probably not happy,” Silt and New Castle planning consultant David Farrar told the paper.

In other energy news in the area, the grassroots Thompson Divide Coalition was meeting with the Garfield County commissioners Monday to seek support for a bill the group plans to present to 3rd Congressional District Rep. John Salazar.

According to the Post Independent, the bill would take 221,500 acres of federal land in the Thompson Divide area west of Carbondale out of consideration for mineral leasing, as well map out a plan to “buy, exchange or ‘retire’ about 81 existing leases in the area, or to convince the mineral owners to relinquish them.”

Drilling in the Thompson Divide roadless area is a highly contentious issue. A representative of the Aspen Wilderness Workshop previously told the Colorado Independent, “The citizens of Carbondale are like, ‘Over my dead body on that one,’ and they say things like, ‘Just tell me when it’s time to lie in front of the bulldozers.’”

The Pitkin County commissioners have been weighing new drilling regulations to further regulate any potential drilling in the Thompson Divide area.

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