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Last updated 12:57AM ET
December 14, 2017
KSUT Regional
KSUT Regional
HD Drilling Upheld
(2007-07-13)
(ksut) - HOST LEAD: Barring further appeals, the way has been cleared for drilling of gas wells in the Northern San Juan Basin, including in the HD mountains east of Bayfield and near the Fruitland Outcrop.
An appeal of an April decision allowing the new wells has been denied.
KSUT's Victor Locke reports.

VICTOR: Five environmental groups, three individuals and Archuleta County filed an 89 page appeal of the 55 page Record of Decision, on the Northern San Juan Basin Gas Welols, which was handed down in April.
San Juan Forest Supervisor and BLM Center Manager Mark Stiles has confirmed the Regional Forester in Denver last Thursday ruled on the appeal.
STILES: OUR DECISION WAS UPHELD IN ITS ENTIRETY HOWEVER THERE WERE INSTRUCTIONS FOR US TO GO BACK AND CLARIFY IN ABOUT THREE PLACES IN OUR RECORD OF DECISION THAT CERTAIN THINGS, WERE LIKE FOR INSTANCE ABSOLUTE REQUIREMENTS FOR CAVITY NESTING BIRDS AS OPPOSED TO OPTIONAL MITIGATION MEASURES, AND WE'LL MAKE THOSE CLARIFICATIONS BUT THAT WON'T REQUIRE ANY FURTHER ANALYSIS.
Six gas production companies hold leases in the 125-thousand acre area straddling the La Plata, Archuleta County line north of the Southern Ute Reservation.
They've proposed as many as 300 new coalbed methane gas wells.
About half of those would be on federal lands, some in the HD mountains and near the Fruitland Outcrop.
Stile's decision came after six years of deliberation.
It would allow 124 new wells and 93 miles of new roads on public lands.
Opponents have until July 20th to appeal the district ranger's decision upholding Stile's findings, to federal court.
If they don't, Stiles says gas companies could start drilling wells.
STILES: THE DECISIONS THAT COULD BE IMPLEMENTED FAIRLY QUICKLY WOULD BE THE APPROVAL OF UP TO FIVE NEW WELLS AT THIS POINT. THERE WERE SEVEN SPECIFIC WELL LOCATIONS INVOLVED IN THE DECISION, TWO WERE DENIED, FIVE WERE APPROVED. THOSE COULD MOVE FORWARD. THERE ARE ABOUT ANOTHER 36 WELL PROPOSALS INDUSTRY HAS THAT ARE BEING FINALIZED AT THIS POINT. THOSE WILL BE IMPLEMENTED AS THEY COME IN AND I CAN'T REALLY SAY WHEN THE INDUSTRY WILL CHOOSE TO FILE THE FINAL APPLICATIONS ON THOSE. ALTHOUGH THE DECISION DEALT WITH AS MANY AS 185 WELLS RIGHT NOW WE ONLY HAVE SEVEN SPECIFIC IN FRONT OF US AND ANOTHER 36 OR SO THAT WE KNOW THAT ARE BEING WORKED ON.
No decision has yet been made by those who appealed the ruling, on whether to file further appeals.
Christi Zeller of the La Plata Energy Council which represents some gas producers, says they aren't surprised Stiles Decision, which they say is extremely comprehensive, has been upheld and now it's time to start developing gas rights in the area.
From KSUT, Four Corners Public Radio, I'm Victor Locke.
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