Letter to the Editor: Letter to Piceance Creek road users

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Dear Editor:
This is an open letter to residents who use Piceance Creek Road (County Road 5).
This letter is to let you know that Community Counts road signs have been installed along, and feeding into, Piceance Creek Road (County Road 5 or CR5).
We are extremely excited to bring our program to Rio Blanco County. It has been very successful in Garfield County and we’ve been working with your commissioners to offer this 24/7 response line capability to you.
What is Community Counts and how does it work?
Community Counts Colorado (CCC) was established in 2007, when several energy industry operators from the Garfield County Operators’ Group saw a need to connect in a more timely fashion with residents in areas of active drilling to address and resolve concerns about impacts.
As more operators came to the Piceance Basin and started operating in the same areas, residents didn’t know who to call and ultimately their concerns weren’t getting resolved quickly enough. Today, we are a broad-based non-profit organization established to facilitate open and direct dialog between communities and the energy industry that encourages timely response and resolution to matters of mutual concern.
Our members, 86 strong, come from many different facets of the region: local and county governments; emergency response organizations; business people and organizations; residents; and energy industry operators, contractors and consultants.
Our 24/7 response line (866-442-9034) is the backbone of our simple and effective issues management system. The response line is designed to connect residents with the source of their issues and concerns for timely response and resolution.
Once Community Counts facilitates that connection, we are no longer involved. The operator and resident address and resolve the issue, and, in the future, the resident contacts the operator directly assuming the issue involves the same source. If not, the resident is advised to call Community Counts.
To close the loop on calls that come to Community Counts, the operator gets back with us to let us know the issue has been resolved. What we do not do is get involved with specific landowner/resident issues with specific operators. We exist to ensure that residents have the appropriate contacts to address their concerns. That’s where our facilitation begins and ends.
We coordinate very closely with county oil and gas liaisons as well as members of municipal staff, sharing information and making sure resident issues are identified quickly and addressed. Most problems are reported and then resolved, or on the way to resolution, on the same day.
As an example of how the response line works, the community of Battlement Mesa has several operators with activities in their area. Jake brakes used to be a common complaint, and one that caused a lot of bad feelings when people would be awakened at 4 a.m. night after night. They did not have nice things to say about the energy industry at community meetings! Now, however:
A complaint comes in to CCC.
The call goes out to operators (Response comes in to CCC that a particular operator is working in the area and will use their GPS tracking to identify the contractor. Problem solved.).
Or it’s impossible to pinpoint the exact driver and contractor, in which case Garfield County loans us an electronic sign to caution drivers that excessive jake brakes are unacceptable.
Battlement Mesa residents now know they can stop the jake brake issue with one phone call to Community Counts. The problem comes up about every three to four months as drivers rotate in and out of the area. Again, one call from a resident generates a string of actions that gets the problem solved within 24 hours.
But wait! There’s more! Here’s the complete list of our services and features:
Response Line (1-866-442-9034): Each energy operator provides a 24/7 on-call contact. When residents call the main Community Counts response line number, they can speak directly with an operator and receive a resolution to a concern or answer to a question in a timely manner.
Good Neighbor Pledge: In addition to providing a communication bridge between energy producers and the community, CCC also defines what it means to be a good neighbor in the energy industry. As natural gas and oil producers, full compliance with laws and regulations that ensure safe operations is an essential element to being a good neighbor, and CCC members take that responsibility seriously. CCC’s energy industry members sign a Good Neighbor Pledge to demonstrate their commitment to being responsible and respectful at all times.
Interactive Website: The website (communitycountscolorado.com) is designed to serve as a resource for the community and also hosts a member portal. Anyone interested in western Colorado’s drilling operations will find a variety of resources including information about Community Counts, its members and links to resources about the industry.
Rig Location Maps: As a resource for the community, there is a map on the website showing current rig locations and pertinent operator contact information.
Information emails: CCC sends timely blast emails out to area residents with important updates such as rig moves, potential traffic disruptions, educational opportunities and other topics that help our residents.
Board and Membership Meetings: Board meetings are held every other month and an annual membership meeting is held in November. These meetings provide opportunities for our members to discuss and collaborate on ways to move the organization forward in a positive manner. The meeting schedule is included on the website in the calendar of events. The next meeting is Jan. 8 at 5 p.m. at Parachute Town Hall. Although board meetings are primarily for board members, interested CCC members who are unable to attend and want meeting information can request a copy of agendas, minutes and reports.
Speakers Bureau: Available for schools and community organizations as an expert resource to learn about energy-related topics from industry professionals, this is a consortium of Community Counts members who are prepared to give presentations and tours. The range of topics includes geology, land negotiations, drilling, completions including fracing, reclamation, innovative technologies, environmental and safety considerations and energy usage in the US. At the present time, there is no cost for these presentations.
Awareness training for field personnel: This is a program just being initiated to support field personnel, especially vehicle drivers, on ways they can lessen industry impacts and be Good Neighbor ambassadors who help build respect, trust and informed dialog in active drilling areas.
One final note: We realize that energy industry activity in Rio Blanco County is somewhat minimal at present. But that’s exactly why it’s a perfect time to get an effective communications system in place. To help us keep you informed or to learn about membership, we’d appreciate having your contact information, including email addresses if possible. You can reach us as follows:
Sher Long
Executive Director
Nita Smith
Community Counts Colorado