Garfield County commissioners on Tuesday will conduct a public hearing on six land-use applications related to natural gas development within Battlement Mesa, even though one of them — an application to locate a well pad — has been rejected by the state.
A citizens group that has opposed drilling by Ursa Resources within the planned unit development doesn’t expect that to change the outcome of the hearing. Until there’s some legal clarification about the mission of the state’s regulatory body, state law preempts local control over aspects of oil and gas development. So members of Battlement Concerned Citizens regard the hearing as nothing more than a rubber-stamping exercise.
But the concerned citizens will point out that a standing legal interpretation of Martinez v. the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission says the state must protect health and environment before allowing oil and gas drilling. They’ll argue that the county should postpone authorizing Ursa’s plan until the courts have resolved the issue, or — at a minimum — until the COGCC signs off on the application for Pad A, which was rejected for a failure to notify building owners.