Aug. 17–Local community groups penned a letter to Gov. John Hickenlooper asking for state government to intervene in a plan by Extraction Oil & Gas, Inc., to drill 84 wells in Broomfield and near the border of Adams County.
The letter comes two days after Broomfield City Council held a special meeting to call an executive session to discuss oil and gas.
Protestors met council members as they headed into their Tuesday meeting, then followed them into the conference room demanding an opportunity to speak. After attorneys consulted municipal laws, City and County Attorney Shaun Sullivan determined opening public comment was up to the chair of the meeting.
Broomfield Mayor Randy Ahrens allowed for one-minute comments, and nearly 20 people voiced their opinions before the executive session. Those who spoke included: Heidi Henkle, Lois Vanderkooi, Jennifer Dulles, Kristy Kovalcha, John Dulles, John Varn, Neil Allaire, Nick Klebenstein, Lizzie Lario, Anne Marie Cleary, Judy Dulles, Alexis Marsh-Holschen, Tim Flanaghan, Ron Booth, Gwynell Popovich, Christy Douglas, and Cami Loman.
In the letter sent to the governor by Broomfield resident Laurie Anderson, the groups quoted Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission officials from an Aug. 1 meeting. Commissioner Howard Boigon indicated a project of this scale has never been undertaken near residential communities.
“Their plan will turn our neighborhoods into large-scale, multi-site industrial operations in the midst of neighborhoods, parks, schools, and water reservoirs (one future), and on designated open space,” the letter states. “The increased proximity, intensity, and scale of industrial drilling referred to during your 2014 Blue Ribbon Task Force has come to Broomfield’s residents and neighboring counties.”
Colorado’s oil and gas regulatory system is broken, the letter states, and the groups implore Hickenlooper to close out his term as governor by “doing the right thing.”
“While the industry insists that they can do whatever they want, accidents continue to happen, such as the explosion at Extraction’s newly developed Stromberger pad in Windsor and the major leak at the Berthoud site where new drilling likely damaged the structural integrity of an existing well,” the letter states. “We are the ones who end up paying the bulk of the costs while the industry reaps the profits and spends millions to protect their interests. Yet, the industry regularly complains about the cost of changes in regulations that improve protections to health, safety, welfare, and the environment.”
The groups say that means giving municipalities more control and asking COGCC Executive Director Julie Murphy to say “no” to Extraction’s proposal.
The letter was signed by League of Oil and Gas Impacted Coloradans; Broomfield Moms Active Community; One Broomfield Indivisible; Broomfield Concerned a Coalition of Neighborhoods; Wildgrass Oil and Gas Committee; 301 Broomfield Health and Safety First; Broomfield Clean Air and Water; Adams County Communities for Drilling Accountability Now; Front Range Residents for Environment, Safety, and Health; and Anthem Ranch Oil and Gas Education Group.
It also was sent to Department of Natural Resources Executive Director Bob Randall; COGCC Executive Director Julie Murphy; Broomfield Mayor Randy Ahrens; and Colorado Energy Office Executive Director Kathleen Staks.
On Aug. 1, Broomfield officials postponed the approval of Extraction’s Comprehensive Drilling Plan, which they previously had been expected to approve administratively.
On Thursday, Broomfield staff posted a letter saying the plan will be approved if Extraction agrees in writing to certain conditions.
The letter outlines 10 conditions, including the placing of security guards at each of its well sites through the completion phase; and a new sentence shall be added to the plan that states “Extraction will comply with all safety requirements of the CDP and implement any additional, reasonable, future measures needed to ensure safety.”
Additionally, the conditions include Extraction providing an amended Risk Management Plan that addresses all safety-related risks identified in Extraction’s Securities and Exchange Commission statement, as well as and wildfires, light pollution, and sabotage or vandalism.
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