SG Interests Presents Plans for 150 New Wells in North Fork Watershed

June 10, 2014 –

On June 2, representatives from the gas drilling company SG Interests were in Paonia to present proposed plans for 150 new gas wells in the Bull Mountain area, primarily on publicly-owned federal mineral estate.

Dozens of local residents packed the meeting and asked tough questions about SG’s proposal. For those of you who couldn’t make the meeting, and for the record, we want to set a few things straight.

  • SG has proposed 150 new wells – 73 shale gas, 73 coal bed methane, and 4 waste water disposal wells – for the Bull Mountain Unit.
  • The Bull Mountain Unit is a nearly 20,000 acre area between Paonia Reservoir and McClure Pass, with more than 13,000 acres of federal mineral leases.
  • According to SG, the company could drill the 150 wells in 5 to 6 years, which would be as many as 30 new wells drilled each summer.
  • The project would result in a significant increase in traffic on Hwy 133 and County Road 265, including: an average of 1,456 trips per well site during well pad and access road construction, an average of 638 trips per well site for drilling a new well on an existing well pad, and an average of 474 trips per well site for drilling a new well on a new well pad (draft Environmental Assessment [EA] at 117: Table 47 – Traffic Associated with Construction, Drilling, Completion, and Production).
  • “Construction of a single well pad and access road would add 52 trips per day to CR 265 and SH 133” (draft EA at 117).
  • “Potential impacts to surface water resources … include increased short-term runoff and depletion of surface water flows in East and West Muddy creeks, Muddy Creek, and possibly the North Fork Gunnison River” (draft EA at 126).
  • “Cumulative indirect impacts to quality of life … would include potential accelerated development of the area once access roads are established on private lands and diminished opportunities for and enjoyment of fishing, hunting, hiking, OHV use, and scenic tourism as a result of increased noise, traffic, and views of pads and infrastructure” (draft EA at 150).

This proposal is not a done deal. The proposed Master Development Plan is currently under environmental review by the local Bureau of Land Management (BLM) office. Previously, the BLM had prepared a draft Environmental Assessment for the project, and is currently working on a draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), which is a more thorough study.

BLM typically considers a number of different options, called alternatives, that it can choose from when contemplating how to proceed with a proposal like this. These alternatives can range from the proposed action (150 new wells) to taking no action (i.e. the “no action” alternative). When the draft EIS comes out for comment, you can write to the BLM and ask them to select the No Action Alternative and state your reasons why (like protecting water quality and quantity, air quality, important wildlife habitat, etc).

In the meantime, you can learn much more about the proposal from SG Interests by clicking on the links below.

While SG was in town on June 2 to present their plans, the company reported a spill at its waste water disposal well in the Bull Mountain Unit. According to the spill report filed with the state regulatory agency, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, SG spilled 35-40 barrels of produced water with trace amounts of natural gas liquids. Luckily, this was a relatively small spill and was limited to the tank containment area.

BLM is planning on releasing a draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for this proposal by the end of August or beginning of September for public comment. Citizens for a Healthy Community will keep you informed of when and how you can help to oppose this project.

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