Opportunity today in Sanford for landowners to hear from La Plata County (Colorado) Commissioner Gwen Lachelt who spoke about fracking.
The workshop was sponsored by Southern Environmental Law Center and Rural Advancement Foundation (RAFI).
La Plata County is the same size as New Hampshire, and the county seat is Durango, CO. This is an arid high desert and the gas formation being pumped is called the San Juan Basin, a sandstone formation that covers portions of CO and NM. There has been drilling for oil and gas in this area for 25 years, now fracking. Farming, ranching, and mining are main industries.
Statistics and practices
1) There are 35,000 producing wells in New Mexico in the San Juan Basin; 3,400 producing wells in Colorado.
2) One-half of La Plata County revenues are coming from oil and gas development; BUT there is increased demand for county services and, as revenues drop, costs for services do not.
3) Around 50% of well production will occur in first three years.
4) Property devaluation is 22% if a well is on the property. [Wyoming shows devaluation of 50%; Texas shows up to 75% devaluation.]
5) Roads, high impact of traffic and repairs.
6) Jobs: Over 25 year history, not many jobs during actual boom since most “pipeliners” come from elsewhere; “mancamps” created, need more sheriffs.
7) Cannot develop well pad on less than 10 acres; new wells must go on existing pads and use existing roads.
8) Setbacks from schools, 1,000-ft.
9) Setbacks from streams 1,000-ft. (increased the distance)
10) Mandatory well water testing within one-quarter mile from well, and now landowner notification required in La Plata County.
11) Frack fluid pits (size of 3 football fields end-to-end) are lined with plastic; the liquid evaporated when finished; then the plastic liner is folded (like a burrito) over remaining residue and toxic solids; and BURIED under dirt. Leaking?? Some pits not even marked with a sign on the surface.
12) Bad cementing of vertical wellbore in “exploratory” wells caused methane leakage into water wells.
13) Noise from pumping, drilling operations, compressors...like jet plane circling 24 hours/day for weeks or months.
14) BP had to buy out an entire subdivision, Pine River Ranch, because of methane and hydrogen sulfide leaks...one house combusted from gas.
1) LaPlata County was sued by the oil & gas industry industry (late 1980s) over local government authority to regulate land use impacts...La Plata’s setbacks are more stringent that the State of CO. Also has local control over siting, road and well impact fees, no venting/flaring of methane during fracking process, electrification of wellhead compressors. County’s authority to regulate won in state Supreme Court.
2) It took 17 years to change the composition of the Colorado Oil and Gas Commission from 7 members (5 were from industry) to 9 members (3 from industry).
3) CO implemented the Colorado Land Owner Protection Act for property owners, BUT many leases ask the property owner to sign a “waiver” to those rights for MORE money upfront.
4) CO allows industry to claim Trade Secrets in their frack fluid, but must disclose them to CO Oil and Gas Commission
5) Santa Fe County, NM requires FULL disclosure of all frack chemicals, including Trade Secrets.
1) Stand your ground for tougher local regulations, and be ready to go to court.
2) Counties are banning fracking through “Community Rights” ordinances, and will go to state courts.
3) NEVER sign a lease with a landman. Excellent lease example: www.pamarcellusshale.com
4) If do sign a mineral lease, make sure you identify ALL gas and oil products sold from the well to be calculated in your royalty; get “audit” privileges to check numbers. LOTS of underpaid royalties in Colorado per Commissioner Lachelt.
Diana Hales, retired