1.Do you have concerns about the proposed residential oil and gas development plans in Broomfield? If so, what specifically concerns you and what would you do to implement change? If not, please explain why you are satisfied with the proposed plans.
I am honored to have served on the Broomfield Oil and Gas Comprehensive Plan Update Committee. I believe that we have tried to create standards and protocols that will protect the health, safety and welfare of all Broomfield residents in the event of oil and gas development here. In light of the recent negotiations for an amended MOU with Extraction Oil and Gas, I am concerned that there are some elements of our guidelines and regulations to which Extraction has yet to agree. The lack of soil sampling before and during completion is very troublesome. There are also some questions as to whether or not they will comply with our noise guidelines.
In a perfect world, we would only live with renewable resources. In a semi-perfect world we would live in a state that at least protects the health, safety and welfare of the residents. Neither of these situations exist in Colorado and thus it is imperative that Broomfield leads the way and creates regulations at both the local and state levels to protect everyone. The taskforce is committed to taking our regulations to the state, and I see that as a very positive action.
But is this all we can do? From 2001-2011 lived in Pennsylvania. Over the last several years of my time in PA, the process of drilling the Marcellus Shale began. Oil and Gas companies rushed in to make a profit off of this newly realized resource – all without consideration of the health, safety and welfare of the residents of PA. Every community that was positioned over this precious commodity was promised great riches and so the pillaging of the land began. Soon reports began to surface of horrible environmental degradation and human health problems. The PA laws, just like Colorado’s laws, had given oil and gas corporations free reign over the environment. By 2013, however, it was realized that the state had given oil and gas companies rights that should only be used by governmental agencies, i.e., eminent domain and the PA Supreme Court ruled that private companies could not take the resources via eminent domain for profit reasons. In Colorado we call it forced pooling, but the concept is the same. Private companies have been given the right to take away individual’s property in order to extract the oil and gas resources. I offer my experiences in PA, because they have colored my perspective on oil and gas development in Colorado.
2. Do you believe that regulations (https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/OBxAJnoFWbi4RVGIHRVVKcEQtZOO) that are being recommended by the Comprehensive Plan Update Committee (the “Recommendations) should be adopted in full in addition to the Comprehensive Plan Chapter even if it means risking litigation? Please explain why or why not, and cite any specific portions of the Recommendations with which you disagree or find essential.
Without question, the regulations submitted by our Committee should be adopted. It is a heavy lift because it means new regulations will need to be established at both the local and state levels. Yet we must support our commitment to protecting the health, safety and welfare of all residents. # 1. The application process will immediately weed out operators who do not have the resources or the inclination to protect the health, safety and welfare of all residents. Broomfield needs to know that the operator has the financial resources to do their investigations into the area they are proposing to work. We have required baseline studies and operational plans to assure the community that all precautions will be taken and to know what the current conditions are so that we can tell if negative impacts are happening. #3. Set-Backs – this is probably the biggest lift of all because before now, the state regulations have all assumed one well. In fact, operators are proposing large numbers of wells per pad in close proximity to occupied buildings and recreational spaces. The state 500’ set-back simply is inadequate to protect residents in the event of any kind of accident on a multi-well pad. It just is not enough. Our proposed graded set-backs help to mitigate the risks. #11. Closed loop and pitless systems are critical. Without the closed loop, there would be storage tanks that would be used and trucks coming to the tanks on a regular basis to drain the tanks. I can say with 100% confidence that if you do not have the closed loop system that sends the product into pipelines, every time a valve is opened to fill the tanker trucks you WILL have significant air pollution that will negatively impact residents in the general area. This just is not an acceptable risk. #22. This item ties with #11 and # 35 in that we must protect the air quality where we live. Unfortunately we live in an ozone none-attainment area. In part our -attainment is a result of high traffic, high solar radiation and the growing level of oil and gas development. #29 Water quality – we cannot survive without water and thus our regulations are focused on protecting our precious resource from oil and gas development. #35 Flow-lines and pipelines are critical in reducing the amount of air pollution as referenced in #11.
3. After the City Council decided which Recommendations to adopt, they will need to decide how to implement them. Do you believe the City Council should only create ordinances for Recommendations that are clearly within the City’s authority, or do you believe the City Council should look for holes in the State’s regulations and create ordinances for those issues, even if it means risking litigation? Why?
As a member of the Update Committee, I firmly believe in what we created. There are legal precedents from other states that could help inform what should be done in Colorado. For example, Robinson Tsp. vs The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania addresses the process of a “taking” of property for corporate gain. Our concerns about forced pooling could be addressed far more equitably than Colorado currently does. Local regulations were written in a time when we never imagined multi-well pads in close proximity to residential homes. As we progress as a society, we must also progress with our laws. I do not have a problem with writing new laws and even pushing to have new state regulations.
As mentioned previously, I believe that Broomfield, along with other municipalities should come together and agree upon state regulations they want to see changed. I would hope that Broomfield’s and the Committee’s proposed regulations would be the standard the municipalities select and then we could require a mandatory rules making session with COGCC. Matt Lapor had publically stated that he is waiting for our regulations because of the thoroughness with which we approached this difficult subject. It will take some time, but there is no better time than NOW to make the necessary changes in both state and local regulations with respect to oil and gas activities. If Broomfield’s guidelines and regulation proposals are not accepted by the state, then I do support the litigation option to protect the health, safety and welfare of the residents of Broomfield.
4. If your beliefs and /or political views regarding an issue become at odds with the collective voice of your constituents, how would you proceed with critical decisions despite this conflict?
I would be very surprised if there would be an issue that is unanimously held by all constituents that I would not also agree with. That having been said, in the event there is a topic upon which there is much disagreement, my first action would be to listen to all points of view. I do want to listen to my constituents. I am a scientist, and as such, I would be looking for the data, the facts, and the big picture. I would want to make decisions based upon facts. As an educator I also believe in being a lifelong learner, so there is much I can learn from others (my constituents) and from scientific research and those elements would be what would inform my votes. Voters can count on my clearly stating the basis for making the voting decisions that I make. Included in my decisions will be the voices of my constituents.
5. Do you believe that the health, safety, and welfare of Broomfield residents have been protected with respect to oil and gas development decisions to date? If not, how do you intend to advocate for this protection if you are elected? If yes, please explain in detail how you believe this has been accomplished and explain if there are any improvements you would like to see.
The charge to the Comprehensive Plan Oil and Gas Update Committee was: Given the state’s permissive regulations towards Oil and Gas development, create the guidelines that will protect the health, safety and welfare of all residents of Broomfield in the eventuality of oil and gas development here. The city has felt bound by state laws that give all power to the oil and gas corporations. The creation of the Oil and Gas Update Committee was an attempt to find a way to protect the health, safety and welfare of all residents. I do believe that our committee did try to imagine all scenarios that would require attention and/or regulating.
We are now in the middle of our “case study” with Extraction Oil and Gas, Inc. The City Staff, once our chapter and regulations were submitted to City Council were directed by the City Council to complete the negotiations with Extraction Oil and Gas, Inc. to have an amended MOU in place shortly. That MOU will not be completed until after the City Council votes the chapter in place. It is my hope that they will likewise vote in the regulations we proposed. Yes, there might be some litigation, but that could help strengthen the goals of not only Broomfield, but many other municipalities to protect the health, safety and welfare of all residents.
As to whether or not the City is protecting the health, safety and welfare of all residents remains to be seen once the final conditions of the amended MOU are revealed. It is my sincere hope that the parameters we created will have been followed.
It is relevant to note that even if some regulations are not in alignment with state regulations, if an operator agrees to the City’s requests/regulations, you have in effect enacted those regulations and that is a very good way to protect the health, safety and welfare of all residents.