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State Oil and Gas Commission Votes to Approve Extraction Application to Drill in Broomfield

August 2, 2018

Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission members voted for Director Julie Murphy to approve drilling permits filed by Extraction Oil & Gas, Inc. in Broomfield.

Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission members voted for Director Julie Murphy to approve drilling permits filed by Extraction Oil & Gas, Inc. in Broomfield.

The motion included a provision that Murphy can add conditions as she sees fit, including adding protections in regard to an access road that will be affected by well pads.

Broomfield staff and city council members did not testify at the hearing, although several were present at the meeting, because Broomfield agreed not to protest the 2 and 2A permits.

Adams County residents, who will be affected by the placement of the well pads, were not bound by that restriction.

Several Adams County staff members and outside legal counsel spoke during the afternoon hearing; County Commissioners Eva Henry, Steve O’Dorisio and Charles “Chaz” Tedesco all testified that morning during public comment.

The vote came just before 4 p.m. on the third day of commission hearings at its offices in Denver.

O’Dorisio challenged the skirting of laws in place to avoid triggering large urban mitigation area (or LUMA).

The commission defines those areas as a location having eight new horizontal, vertical or direction wells or 4,000 barrels of new or existing cumulative hydrocarbon storage capacity, within an urban mitigation area. Locations of those areas will trigger an enhanced local government consultation process prior to submitting a Form 2A permit to the commission, according to a rule fact sheet from the Colorado Oil and Gas Association.

O’Dorisio said that the “disturbed area” needs to include access roads, which in this case are close to homes.

“What’s the point of requiring an alternative site analysis if not to address issues like this very case?” he said. “The spirit and the goal of these protections were designed to specifically address these issues.”

Henry told commissioners she was concerned Adams County had no opportunity to give input on the well-site locations before Broomfield approved an agreement with Extraction. After two years of negotiations, the two parties determined at the last minute that the interests of Adams County residents were a “lower priority” than the interests of Broomfield residents.

“Four consolidated well pads located in undeveloped areas in Broomfield turned into six well pads, four of which are spread across land that borders Adams County,” Henry said. “Projects like this are what cause problems in our region that spill over into other land use decisions. It causes border wars between local jurisdictions and affects regionalism.”

She said currently proposed well sites are directly in open space that are in the “backyards” of Adams County residents. The area was intended to act as a buffer from noise and light impacts from the Northwest Parkway.

If the permits go through, residents will suffer those same impacts, but at a much larger scale, Henry said. She was not asking the commission to deny development, but to look at another site because the current locations are “profoundly inappropriate.”

Several commissioners said they were sympathetic to Adams County residents.

Commissioner Ashley Ager said she understands when residents say they are being used as “guinea pigs.” This development is one of the larger ones the commission has seen, she said, and it’s in a residential area.

“I think we as a commission sympathize with Adams County and the residents and that’s why we’re here today,” Ager said.

The public comments voiced were the best Ager has heard, she said, and she could tell residents are engaged and educated and that their requests are not unreasonable.

She also believes that Extraction has followed the rules as they were laid out and worked hard with Broomfield on establishing locations and that there is not much she can do with that agreement.

“That’s between those two parties,” she said. “I have to respect that as well.”

Jennifer Rios: 303-473-1361, riosj@broomfieldenterprise.com or Twitter.com/Jennifer_Rios

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