Last spring, Ultra Resources snapped up 18,000 acres of the Banning Lewis Ranch on Colorado Springs' east side. Ultra is hoping the rough native grasses there conceal a prolific deposit of oil and natural gas.
But the idea of oil and gas drilling in city limits — as well as farther east in El Paso County — is making waves.
Some local residents and environmental activists fear that when Ultra comes to town, it will bring ruin to underground water supplies and choke our clean air with fumes from drilling rigs and compressor stations. County officials have put together local regulations they believe will guard against environmental trouble, and also save the county's roads from the crush of heavy trucks; commissioners will be talking about those regs on Tuesday. The city is just beginning a similar effort.
Skirmishes await. The state Attorney General's Office has already said the county's proposed rules go too far. And that position's backed by Ultra and the Colorado Oil and Gas Association.
Considering the amount of land it owns, the central industry player in the local drama is Ultra. But what do we really know about this Texas-based company? Is it a good neighbor around its other drilling sites? Does it comply with government regulations, including environmental laws? We've asked those questions, and more; answers can be found in our cover story, starting here.