Elbert County

Commissioners approve first oil and gas permit under new regs

Special use permit for Prescott Ranches project granted to Mustang Creek LLC

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After an hour-long public hearing, the Elbert County Board of County Commissioners unanimously approved a special use permit application filed by Mustang Creek LLC for an exploratory well the company wants to drill on Prescott Ranches near Simla.

The permit, approved March 12, was the first to be granted under the county's newly revised oil and gas regulations, passed by the BOCC earlier this year after nearly three years of debate and controversy.

The county's Planning and Zoning Commission reviewed and approved Mustang Creek's application earlier this year.

Mustang Creek is a subsidiary of Greenwood Village-based NexGen Oil and Gas.

Three company representatives attended the March 12 BOCC meeting, making a short presentation and answering a number of questions from commissioners.

Bob Davis, a vice president for Mustang, told commissioners the company is “anxiously waiting for results” from an exploratory well currently being drilled in El Paso County near the proposed Prescott Ranches well site.

Positive results from the El Paso well would bode well for the company's proposed project in Elbert County, Davis told commissioners.

The county's newly revised land-use regulations pertaining to oil and gas development dramatically decrease the time it takes county officials to approve new “minor facility” oil and gas permits.

At the March 12 meeting, County Planner Carolyn Parkinson gave a presentation to commissioners regarding the details of the Mustang Creek project.

The proposed well site, about two miles from the nearest public road, is located on about 4,000 acres of pastureland.

Exploratory activity, which will be conducted 24 hours a day, seven days a week, is expected to last between 30 and 120 days, Parkinson told the BOCC.

Davis told commissioners his company likely will not begin drilling activity until “the late third or early fourth quarter” of this year.

No one from the audience spoke during the public comment part of the hearing.

During her presentation, Parkinson told commissioners, “The applicant proposes to use the most efficient traffic routes through the county and minimally impact surrounding property owners.”

There is no surface water within 1,000 feet of the well site and no encroachment on area wetlands, Parkinson reported.

“Mustang Creek has implemented a number of good housekeeping practices,” Parkinson told commissioners. “The applicant has also agreed to use fresh water only” to mitigate dust created by the exploratory activity.

Water will be trucked into the well site from El Paso County, Parkinson said.

“The well site is very remote so noise mitigation” will not be an issue, she added, while saying that “wildlife permanently or temporarily living in the area will likely relocate” as a result of the well site activity.

Local fire officials met with the developers and identified six “fire protection and safety issues,” Parkinson said. “The applicant is currently in contact with Simla Fire District and a meeting will be scheduled between all parties as soon as possible.”

“When they are drilling the well, is water expected to be produced?” Commissioner Larry Ross asked Parkinson.

“No,” Parkinson answered. “The applicant is not even sure at this point if they will be fracturing the well.”

If fracturing takes place, Davis said the source of water used for the process will be trucked in and then recycled on-site for re-use.

A Storm Water Management Plan filed by the company insures that all storm water runoff “will be contained” within the well site, Davis told Ross when asked about Mustang Creek's plan to protect the surrounding watershed.

“I want to give kudos to the staff,” said Davis. “We've been involved in this process for about six months now and the level of professionalism on the part of the county staff has been wonderful.”

Comments

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schroyer39

This WAS NOT the first application to use the newly approved regulations. This application was approved under the Use by Special Review process which is Section 17 of the Elbert County Zoning Regulations. Section 17 has been in place for at least the last three years; any operator could have applied for a permit AT ANY TIME in the last three years and used this process to acquire it. The administrative review process (Section 27) had NOTHING to do with this application. Given the contentious nature of this issue, it is deceitful that you did not even report the main point of this article correctly. I am disappointed that the residents of Elbert County cannot rely on their news sources for accurate information.

Saturday, March 15, 2014 | Report this
robrowl

It is true that this particular permit was in fact processed and approved under the Use by Special Review process. However, the final approval of the process that will provide expedited processing has signaled to the industry that the majority of residents in Elbert County do in fact welcome responsible activity in our county. The constant negative ranting that seems to come with anything that is done in a positive direction on this important issue simply reaffirms that the small minority that opposes any and all progress is just that, the minority. This article, while technically flawed, was not done with malice, but simply was an attempt to give the majority of our citizens the information that the obstructionist minority would like to like to keep from the rest of us.

Saturday, March 15, 2014 | Report this
schroyer39

Thank you for agreeing with me that the article is factually inaccurate. A journalist’s responsibility lies in reporting the truth; anything less is propaganda and should never be construed as fact. George Lurie was attempting to inform ALL citizens of Elbert County, both the majority and minority, about the approved permit; he just got the major facts wrong. This is not the first time Lurie has posted blatantly inaccurate information, especially when the subject matter pertains to the BOCC or oil and gas development within Elbert County. There is certainly nothing “obstructionist” about questioning his factual inaccuracies. I believe everyone in Elbert County deserves equal access to factual information. Don’t you?

Saturday, March 15, 2014 | Report this
RangeRider

To schroyer39, the news media you refer to is a controlled establishment presstitute rag. They don't present 'news' that is unbiased but that is meant to sway and mold public opinion for ulterior purposes. So don't be 'surprised' by that. The 'News' has a decidedly leftist bent that is pro-corporate, pro-democrat, pro-big government and anti-constitution. I am not against oil and gas development in our county personally but am wary of the water grab that will be associated with it. Elbert has been financially ruined and indebted purposefully to bring us to the point of desperate measures to serve the corporations who want certain resources to use as they see fit. Almost all corporations are soul-less entities that are immoral. Gas and oil are useful resources but squandering water for them is a bad idea especially in our part of the country.

Sunday, March 16, 2014 | Report this
RangeRider

BTW, scientists have 'discovered' a vast reservoir of water 250-375 miles below the earth's surface that 'could' contain more water that all oceans combined! If that is true, then perhaps the oil and gas companies could drill into it for their supply of fracking water? Nah, that would cost too much right?

Sunday, March 16, 2014 | Report this
robrowl

Yes, I agreed that the Elbert County News was factually incorrect on the process used to reach approval on this particular permit application. But I will disagree with you on the reporters overall approach to local issues here in Elbert County. I have 40 years in the Newspaper Business (non-editorial) and believe I have a pretty good idea of what constitutes responsible journalism. I have watched, worked with and discussed at great length this gentleman's desire to be a fair and balanced reporter, and while there may be occasional unintentional flaws in some issue reporting, I know that overall he has provided what I consider the most honest, unbiased reporting we have had in Elbert County in some time. If you want examples of your concerns, why do you not evaluate the reporting of the other outlets in Elbert County, that would be a fair and balance opinion. (in my opinion), as I see the slant much more pronounced, and obvious.

Sunday, March 16, 2014 | Report this
schroyer39

I made no assertions about the reporter’s “overall approach to local issues here in Elbert County” other than the fact that he has an inability to report factual information with regards to the BOCC or oil and gas development. Review some of Lurie’s recent articles; there are numerous examples where his ‘reporting’ has been called into question by many others besides myself. Anyone with a “pretty good idea of what constitutes responsible journalism” would not be defending Lurie’s reporting, but would instead insist that he corrects his errors. By exhibiting such vehement support of his inaccurate reporting, one might conclude that you have something to gain.

My concern was with this article, written by this reporter, in this newspaper. Lurie’s journalistic integrity has been called into question time and time and time again. If you have concerns about other newspapers’ “slant”, then by all means, question them about it, but don’t use that as justification for this newspaper’s inaccurate reporting practices.

If the BOCC has specifically chosen this newspaper to disseminate information to the public, then it is the BOCC’s responsibility to ensure that the information reported is factually accurate.

Sunday, March 16, 2014 | Report this
psward

Thank you, and well said. Accuracy first, which, one would think, is nonpartisan and a reasonable expectation in one's newspaper. The need to defend inaccurate reporting leaves the reasonable reader wondering WHY?

Sunday, March 16, 2014 | Report this