Broomfield Forum Gives Hundreds Latest Information about Planned Fracking

IMG_2600“Concerned about leaks?  No problem, we will used a ‘closed system’ in the extraction process.”

“Concerned about truck traffic?  No problem, we will install a pipeline.”

“Concerned about inspections?  No problem, we will hire more inspectors.”

“Concerned about a recent study that found an association of Leukemia in children near well sites?  No problem, that study was done near wells that were not as safe as ours will be.”

Oil and gas representatives seemed to have thought of everything to ease concerns of Broomfield residents about the installation of new hydraulic fracturing – fracking – well sites.  But most of the approximately 800 attendees left the meeting before it concluded unlike a January 10 meeting where most stayed.  An additional 300 were counted as tuning into the live-stream of the meeting.

Despite instructions not to applaud, supporters clapped for resident presentations at a Broomfield city council forum held at the Bank One auditorium on Tuesday evening.  Applause was absent following presentations by representatives of Extraction Oil and Gas, the company that intends to install approximately 140 frack wells.  One person yelled, “We don’t want you here!”

On November 5, 2013  a citizen initiative to ban fracking in Broomfield was approved by voters but was later overturned by the Colorado Supreme Court that upheld the state’s right to control extraction and protect the rights of mineral owners.  In Colorado that controlling entity is the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC), the apellee in a court case brought by Colorado children against the Commission for failing to protect their health and safety.

Similar bans and moratoria were overturned in Longmont, Lafayette, and Fort Collins.

Prior to the meeting US Representative Jared Polis (D-2) encouraged a 6-month moratorium in a letter to Broomfield City Council that would allow an opportunity to develop regulations that are “well within [your] authority to protect our community.”  Polis raised his concerns about locating the proposed wells near neighborhoods and schools.  He said that a moratorium would give city council and opportunity to regulate the “new and oppressive” developments given that Broomfield’s regulations were set in place before new “supersized industrial well sites” could have been imagined, “This kind of development was simply not contemplated in Broomfield’s old rules.”  He expressed disappointment about the Supreme Court decision against the cities of Fort Collins and Longmont and warned Broomfield about the “nasty, bully tactics that the oil and gas industry employs.”  He went a step further to caution Broomfield City Council about those tactics, “Please do not let this unfortunate dynamic succeed (or you will likely see more of it) nor deter you from doing what is right for our constituents.”

Colorado State Senator Vicki Marble (R-23) also weighed in, but as a representative of Extraction Oil and Gas.  Marble voted last week in support of SB-035 that would charge those expressing First Amendment Rights against specifically the oil and gas industry with a felony.

According to her letter dated February 7, 2017, the senator met with the company and two council people, Mayor Pro-Tem Greg Stokes and Ward 3 Council Member Sam Taylor to come to “agreements” including the layout of how tonight’s meeting should look.  The letter also hinted at “litigation” that could be avoided if Extraction’s terms for “this” were met.

Marble wrote that Extraction would agree to participate in the meeting if the company were allowed 30-45 minutes to present, that there would be an equal number of presenters from both sides of the issue, that the company could be provided assurances that they would not be “attacked.”  They also refused to take community questions from a microphone, but would only respond to questions that were submitted online, or through a submitted card.

Extraction also conditioned that only Broomfield residents be allowed on the main floor as “we are hearing there may be many people from other cities and even states coming.”

The company also required that Matt Lepore, Director of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission participate, “Extraction will not be present without the independent state regulatory body in attendance.”

Matt Lepore, Director of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission

Matt Lepore, Director of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission

All conditions were met by Broomfield City Council.

Eric Jacobsen Senior Vice President of Extraction Oil and Gas (all photos: The Nation Report)

Eric Jacobsen Senior Vice President of Extraction Oil and Gas (all photos: The Nation Report)

Eric Jacobsen, Senior Vice President of Extraction Oil and Gas said that 139 total wells were necessary to fully “develop” the area.  He added that older wells that the company inherited would be removed before beginning the first phase of installation of new wells starting in 2018 from west Broomfield moving east.  By 2020 the company expects to have completed the installation of well pads in the Sheridan and Lowell areas of east Broomfield where 26 and 29 wells respectively are planned.  By 2021 the wells are scheduled to begin production.

Jacobsen spent much of his presentation describing the landscaping that the company is not required to install intended to conceal pads, and that other “inconveniences” would be addressed including state-of-the art sound walls.  He said that the industry is transparent about chemicals used in the process which include some of the same chemicals found in toothpaste, jello, and makeup remover.  A new site that lists fracking chemicals – – was touted as proof of the transparency.

Laurie Anderson who founded the community group Broomfield Clean Air and Water expressed concerns about air contamination, leaks and spills, migration of underground chemicals, and accidents.  She mapped out well construction – and proposed construction – near new housing construction, Prospect Ridge Academy (a K-12 school), and the Lowell well pad that is proposed to be within 500 feet of Broomfield Drinking Water Reservoir that is currently under construction.

Laurie Anderson (second left) spoke for the community group Broomfield Oil and Gas.

Laurie Anderson (second left) spoke for the community group Broomfield Clean Air and Water.

Anderson raised problems within the proposals that don’t foresee future problems.  For example open spaces are fair game according to Anderson,  “These are all places that an operator in the future could permissibly drill based on the COGCC setbacks.”

A quick survey of those leaving the meeting found mixed responses to the information presented this evening:

“I’m quite encouraged.  It looks like we’re going to have a pretty good area of compromise between the oil and gas company and residents.  We just need to find a way that oil and gas can be developed here, but not unduly impact the surface owners.  I think tonight showed that we’ve got that way.  We just have to figure out all the details.”

A resident in the Greenway Park division of Broomfield who wished to be identified by her first name, Susan, left the meeting feeling more informed, but felt left with few options against a huge corporation,  “It seems to me that they have acquired leases, it’s like nothing individuals or government can do once they have the leases.  A lot of it has been a done deal.  I was surprised how many wells [are planned].  I think it’s very hard to fight anything to do with these big huge conglomerates.  I wanted to ask them where those pipelines go under.  Where do they go?”

Another resident responded, “I’m disappointed that Extraction initially told us that there would be 8-10 wells and now somehow they’re coming up with a number that’s much larger than that, so it’s really hard to trust them.”

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