At the July 16 City and County of Broomfield (CCOB) Study Session, Council was unanimous in deciding to take roughly six months for a process involving review of small chunks of the revised oil and gas regulations in light of SB19-181, with several opportunities for citizen input along the way. All Council Members expressed the need to have a six-month process over an alternative three-month process in order to do an adequate job and to also avoid deferring other Council business. That process is scheduled to begin with community meetings the week of July 22.
It was the first look at the Staff’s draft of the Oil and Gas regulations, revised in light of the passage of SB19-181 Protect Public Welfare Oil and Gas Operations. The Staff introduction stated that it was a “starting point for discussion” and did “not presume to be a full list of possible amendments.” Special Counsel Elizabeth Paranhos was there to present the first draft, along with Director of Special Initiatives Tami Yellico and CCOB Attorney Shaun Sullivan. Listening to this 9 pm presentation were a Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA) attorney and residents Laurie Anderson, Roxie Juul and Jean Lim (author). Council Member Kreeger later pointed out that COGA should not be given preferential treatment and that any input from COGA should be clearly identified as such in the process.
One point of Council discussion involved a suggestion in a July 11 email from former Oil and Gas Task Force member and mayoral candidate Pat Quinn. He suggested that CCOB “follow the process established in 2017, name an ‘Update Committee’ representing a diverse group of Broomfield residents, have them start with the work completed by the previous Update Committee and then, with legal and expert advice have them determine the changes that should be made based on new information and now allowed by SB181.” This was supported by both Council Members Shelton and Law-Evans to give the former Task Force members a special place in the process for their input, in some form. However, Council Member Castriotta stated that she did not want Task Force members selected by a previous Council given special input. Council Member Kreeger concurred that the Task Force should not be given special input and Council Member Groom agreed that they should just be notified about the general public input process and could choose to include themselves in it. Council Member Shaff requested that the whole process emphasize dialogue using small groups and inclusive formats.
There were a few specifics about the regulations that were discussed, although the Staff seemed to just be looking for feedback on the timetable at this meeting. Council Member Tessier asked Attorney Sullivan to discuss point III.A.iii.3: “If mineral owners have no place to access their property, they may have a potential claim that Broomfield took their property and must compensate them.” CCOB Attorney Shaun Sullivan emphasized that CCOB will use its zoning authority to regulate where oil and gas can be sited or not be allowed.
Council Member Kreeger suggested that there be minimum setbacks based on solid health and safety data and that operators be given the burden of proof in the proposals to prove that their proposals’ setbacks protect health and safety. Council Member Jezerski suggested that this needed to be a long discussion, and also that there be “fines that have teeth to them.” Council Member Kreeger also asked the Staff to check into how CCOB might go beyond State forced pooling regulations. Council Member Erickson asked how berms would be inspected for integrity.
Council Member Shaff stated that the precautionary principle needed to be followed with cumulative impacts considered for all wells. He also wanted to hold regional discussions with local electeds so that citizens could attend. CCOB Attorney Sullivan stated that about 15 regional staff members met over the last week to collaborate, but Council Member Shaff stated that did not allow for citizens to attend. Given the oversight of the Extraction project, Council Member Shaff asked if Staff had adequate resources to work on the regulations and Attorney Paranhos laughed in replying that she just was not sleeping.
Broomfield Health and Safety First (BHSF) wrote a July 15 letter to Council and Staff which called attention to the power given to Broomfield by both Charter Amendment 301 and SB19-181. BHSF wrote, “While we understand that the recommendations Staff included with the July 16, 2019 Study Session summary are meant to be a starting point, they fall woefully short of what the city is required to do.” They had also asked that citizen groups and the general community be given opportunity for input made possible by the Staff’s 6 month proposed schedule rather than their 3 month option. Please read the entire BHSF letter here.
There was no update on the status of the breech of contract letter sent to Extraction by CCOB on July 15. At 5 pm, Council voted to enter Executive Session “regarding the Extraction Oil and Gas, Inc. Operator Agreement and Crestone Peak Resources’ Spacing Unit Approval Appeal.” You can read the breech of contract letter in our blog here.
The following documents may be useful for your review:
– six-month schedule, starting with community meetings the week of July 22
– an “Oil and Gas Program Regulation Comparison” chart distributed at the meeting
– the entire Staff draft.