Boulder County Motion Granted by COGCC to Indefinitely Postpone Hearing on 140-well Crestone Project
A hearing on Crestone Peak Resources’ plans to drill 140 wells north of Erie was indefinitely postponed Thursday as a Boulder County lawsuit against the oil and gas company makes its way through the courts.
The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission — the state agency tasked with reviewing oil and gas drilling applications — granted the county’s motion to delay a hearing on Crestone’s plans to drill five multi-well pads on three sites along Colo. 52 north of Erie that would drain 10 square miles of hydrocarbons through horizontal drilling.
The hearing had been scheduled for later this month, Oct. 29-30, but will be delayed until the lawsuit Boulder County filed late last month against the company is resolved, and until any ensuing appeals on the decision in the civil case are resolved as well.
″(Crestone’s)comprehensive drilling plan is a massive drilling project proposed in the heart of Boulder County farmland, which has been protected through the efforts and tax dollars of our residents,” Boulder County Commissioner Elise Jones said in a statement. “We are glad the COGCC is allowing the courts to consider the important legal issues raised by our lawsuit rather than prematurely reviewing the Crestone drilling proposal.”
Boulder County’s lawsuit contends 10 of the mineral rights leases Crestone is using to propose drilling in the area are either expired or would be violated if they were included in the company’s drilling plans.
Crestone opposed the postponement.
“It’s unfortunate to see that the commission’s staff is not following the intent of COGCC Rule 216 and giving true consideration to all of the milestones and requirements that our company has met, at their request,” Crestone spokesman Jason Oates said.
The county’s complaint also claims Crestone’s proposed well pads would sit on lands under conservations easements, and drilling under them would violate a state law that prohibits “injuring or destroying conservation values.”
The lawsuit also alleges Crestone’s mineral rights leases include provisions that prevent their oil and gas from being pooled into drilling areas as large as Crestone is proposing.
“We have an obligation to protect the lands and minerals purchased with open space tax dollars,” Boulder County Commissioner Deb Gardner said in a statement. “Our lawsuit enforces the rights that Boulder County purchased — or inherited with leases and easements — for the protection of the public’s property.”
Boulder County in August also filed a lawsuit naming both the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and drilling operator 8 North as defendants over the approval of 8 North’s plans to drill 52 wells on two separate sites in Weld County that would drain 4,000 acres of Boulder County land.
Boulder County then separately sued 8 North the same day its complaint against Crestone was filed, alleging 8 North’s mineral leases are insufficient for the same reasons the county says Crestone’s are inadequate.
“Political maneuvering and misguided legal challenges are only temporary hurdles that Crestone is prepared to challenge and overcome as part of this project. Time will tell. Crestone will develop our mineral interest in Boulder County, safely, responsibly, and environmentally friendly,” Oates said.
Sam Lounsberry: 303-473-1322, email@example.com and twitter.com/samlounz .