Health and Safety Lawsuit Filed by Wildgrass Oil and Gas Committee v. COGCC

The Wildgrass Oil and Gas Committee (“WOGc”) has filed a lawsuit challenging the June 1 decision of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Committee (“COGCC”) to grant drilling permits for the Livingston pad in Broomfield.  The premise of the lawsuit is that the COGCC failed to take into account health, safety, environment, and economic issues with the massive residential drilling project planned by Extraction Oil and Gas (“XOG”) in Broomfield (the “Project”).

WOGc attempted to challenge the Project through the COGCC protest process, but was repeatedly denied access to information and a proper hearing.  The Wildgrass subdivision in Broomfield has been active in challenging the Project for more than two years from their unique position as individual homeowners who own their mineral rights in a dense residential neighborhood close to the proposed 19 wells of the Livingston Pad.

The lawsuit challenges the Livingston permits, and seeks a proper hearing on the entire Project so that COGCC can take into account the health, safety, environmental, and economic issues with the Project as a whole.  Please read the lawsuit here.  It was filed on July 6 and amended on August 16, with the COGCC response required within 30 days.

Affected Coloradans Together (“ACT”), a Colorado non-profit organization, is accepting donations to help fund this effort and other efforts protecting Colorado residents that are negatively affected by residential oil and gas development. If anyone is interested in donating, please make checks out to ACT and mail to ACT, 5023 W. 120th Ave., #336, Broomfield CO 80023. If you want to donate your mineral rights please contact ACT for more information: AffectedColoradansTogether@gmail.com.  Please note that ACT is the process of securing 501(c)(3) status from the IRS. Thus while they are able to collect donations, your donation will not be officially tax deductible until the status is officially approved, which their lawyers feel confident will happen.

In what would likely sound very familiar to many Broomfield residents, Attorney James Piotrowski for the Idaho mineral owners stated, “At the hearing we were told that evidence about how the drilling might contaminate homes and water sources, reduce property values, or make children sick was not relevant to deciding whether the forced leases were just and reasonable.”

In litigation related to mineral owners elsewhere, a federal court in Boise, Idaho ruled on August 13 that the Constitutional rights of homeowners were violated when they were forced to accept oil and gas leases that allowed an out-of-state developer to drill for natural gas under their homes.  The court ruled that the State of Idaho must vacate the leases and hold a new hearing about future leases.

The ruling found that the homeowners did not receive due process of law because the State of Idaho hearing officer failed to inform the homeowners what legal standard would be applied before deciding the case.  According to the federal court, the Constitutional guarantee of due process requires that the “nonconsenting landowners know the standard which the hearing officer will apply” when deciding whether the forced leases were “just and reasonable,” but that was not defined.