West Slope Colorado oil and gas group calls for pipeline route change

The West Slope Colorado Oil & Gas Association urged the US Bureau of Land Management to move an existing natural gas pipeline, which its owner-operator wants to reroute and upgrade, out of a residential subdivision and onto public land.

SourceGas LLC subsidiary Rocky Mountain Natural Gas wants to upgrade and possibly reroute 4.6 miles of its Avon-to-Rifle Pipeline in the Eagle Ranch subdivision south of the town of Eagle to comply with US Pipeline & Hazardous Materials Safety Administration regulations, BLM said in an Aug. 5 notice (OGJ Online, Aug. 6, 2015). Comments will be accepted through Sept. 4.

“The Rifle-to-Avon Pipeline is a critical delivery mechanism of natural gas to Aspen, Avon, Basalt, Carbondale, Breckenridge, Frisco, and numerous other municipalities where winter tourism and mountain lifestyles are hugely dependent on continued delivery of affordable, reliable natural gas,” WSCOGA Executive Director David Ludlam said.

The pipeline carries gas produced throughout western Colorado and elsewhere to mountain resort communities where it is used to heat homes, vacation properties, condominiums, sidewalks, businesses, and winter resorts, he said in a comment submitted to BLM’s Colorado River Valley field office in Silt, Colo.

“While modern, technologically advanced pipeline systems are safe, our association believes relocating the pipeline right-of-way out of an occupied subdivision, and onto public lands, is the most appropriate course of action,” Ludlam said.

“Public land relocation is the best option for two reasons: Relocation would reduce construction-related impacts on landowners and homeowners; and future maintenance would be more cost effective and less disruptive to local citizens,” he said.

Ludlam said that alternatives two or three under the proposal should be approved because all possible impacts to BLM and open space resources can be adequately mitigated. Any nominal surface impacts to open space and BLM lands from the proposed action are highly temporary. “Once reclamation is completed the lands will be reclaimed,” he said. “Topsoil will be conserved and reused in the process with native seed and vegetation used for restoration of right-of-way.”

WSCOGA, which is based in Grand Junction, includes in its mission ensuring that gas is produced, stored, and transported in a manner which supports Colorado’s important tourism economies, Ludlam said. “Reliable, safe pipeline systems are an important part of this effort,” he indicated. “Please expedite approval of the pipeline relocation/upgrade as soon as practicable.”

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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