Broomfield Resident Challenges City and County of Broomfield’s Decision Not to Endorse SB 19-181 in Letter

Anthem Highlands Resident Laurie Anderson wrote a letter to Council following the March 19 Council Meeting about their failure to officially support SB 19-181.  With a 6-4 vote, Council failed to reach the two-thirds vote needed to support SB 19-181 Protect Public Welfare Oil and Gas Operations.  The vote was:

Yes- Council Members Castriotta, Erickson, Jezerski, Kreeger, Shaff, Tessier

No – Council Members Beacom, Groom, Law-Evans, Shelton

There is a Community Meeting on the Risk Assessment on Friday, March 22 at 5 p.m. where you may want to raise further questions.  Please see details here.

Please read her letter below.

Dear Council,

I am disheartened after listening to Tuesday’s Council meeting and then seeing the BE Headline today stating, “Council declines to take stand on SB19-181”. This bill has been years in the making and your own constituents have led the way by repeatedly testifying at the Capitol over the past years – even when they knew their effort was futile; meeting and emailing their concerns to elected officials; meeting at forums to share their input; and always being present – even when meetings at the Capitol go to 2:30 am – we are there. We heard you all when you said your hands were tied and you all told us to go to the state – and we did…. over… and over…. and over again.

For anyone who has read the language of SB19-181 or reached out to someone like Broomfield’s own Director of Communications and Governmental Affairs, it would be clear that this bill does not just allow governments to put up regulations willy-nilly, but rather they must be reasonable and necessary for the protection of public health, safety, welfare, and the environment. I would hope that you all at least took the time to read the bill summary as this bill will have a direct impact on Broomfield:

The recently established 2019 Council Priorities include oil and gas as a high priority – second only to providing water. Included within your own action steps is, “[w]ork with Colorado legislature and COGCC on legislative and rule making efforts to provide more local control over drilling locations and measures to protect health and safety”. This bill provides more local control and protections. It also starts the process of rulemakings at the COGCC for which Broomfield can participate.

Broomfield is part of the Colorado Municipal League (CML), that testified in support of SB181, and is also a member of Counties and Commissioners Acting Together (CCAT) that has a 2019 Policy Priority “Oil and Gas Development & Impact on Local Communities” that “urges strengthening state-level safeguards and standards related to oil and gas development to ensure public health, safety and welfare, and expand the authority of local governments to oversee oil and gas development in alignment with community needs and desires.”

Legislators have been receiving input from all sides of the oil and gas issue over the past years and these concepts are nothing new. However, in no conversation have I ever heard someone discus basin level control. The majority of current development and pending permits are in the DJ Basin with about 5400 of the 6000 current pending permits in that region.

Those voting to support SB181 included remarks about the need for local control, ability to ensure oil and gas is paying for air quality monitoring and other required costs, and the health and safety needs of their constituents.

Those voting against supporting SB181 indicated that they did not want to tell people how to vote; that they would rather have out-of-the-box thinking (a.k.a. Local Control as the DJ Basin includes 90% of permits with diverse needs including Adams, Boulder, Broomfield, and Weld); that the chance of this bill not passing is so slim that we are wasting time; and the vagueness for local control with no proper limits could become a de facto ban. (Note: the language clearly specifies that provisions must be reasonable and necessary for protection of health, safety, welfare, and environment.)

Why does Council have a process for supporting legislation – specifically requiring a 2/3 vote – if some on Council do not believe in this process or do not think it is worth spending the time to understand the issue being voted on? It ends up looking foolish – the Council sets this type of legislation as a Council Priority, but doesn’t think it’s worth the time to understand the legislation or take a stance. Many of your constituents have invested so much time and energy, but then the people see that Council declines to support SB19-181 in a glaring headline.

I appreciate the votes from the members of Council who are listening to their constituents based on the input for the 2019 Council Priorities, recall how their constituents have voted on oil and gas issues, who remember the hundreds of residents who have shown up and spoken out about their health and safety concerns, and who right now hear their constituents who are calling out to the City for help as they face the consequences of large-scale industrial activity near their homes. They have legitimate concerns as this work progresses, they are concerned about violations, they want to see the continuous air quality measurements, they want to know that there families are protected. I know at least one of you is probably tearing up right now as you read these words because you hear them, but you feel like you can’t do enough to protect them. They are your constituents.

Beyond taking a stance on legislation, this Council also has risk to contend with. Why did the City ask for questions about the HAZID and plan for a public meeting tomorrow and lead the residents to believe that their input would be considered, when it appears the City Manager has already considered the work of the HAZID to be complete? Were you all aware that any efforts to provide input by residents was futile? Are you all good with 412 hazardous risk scenarios including unavoidable situations noting that not all risks were accounted for? I’m not. Any information to help clarify this would be appreciated.


Laurie Anderson

Resident Ward 4