No Two-Thirds Support for SB 19-181 and Risk Assessment Approved by City Manager

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 at the March 19 Council Meeting.  One of its main provisions is to allow local governments to further regulate oil and gas operations in their jurisdictions, making it appropriate to be considered at Council where there has frequently been a claim that the City’s hands are tied by the preemption of the State.

The vote was:

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

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

SB 19-181 passed the Senate on March 12, passed the House Energy and Environment Committee on March 19 and will head to the House Finance Committee next week.  Many Broomfield residents spent long hours at the Capitol in support of the bill over the past few weeks.  Council Member Tessier stated that, “We owe it to our residents to support this.”  Council Member Castriotta pointed out that the bill would allow for permitting fees and fines which would save Broomfield money.  She also referred to a unanimous Adams County vote in support of the bill.  Council Member Kreeger stated he supported its provisions for local control, health and safety enhancements and property rights.  Council Member Erickson stated that she wrote a personal letter of support to the Statehouse and that “what we are doing is symbolic.”

Council Member Groom did not support the bill because it did not include “out-of-the-box thinking” where there would be state, basin and local control.  Council Member Law-Evans stated that she objected to telling people how to vote.  Council Member Beacom said it was a waste of time to consider it since it was going to pass at the State.  Council Member Shelton said that he liked some points about forced pooling and financial assurance but that the bill went too far and was too vague.

Council voted 6-4 to even consider the resolution at 10:45 pm and limited themselves to 16 minutes to consider comments.  The public and Council members were each given one minute to comment.  Speaking in favor of the bill were Neil Allaire, Lizzie Lario and Heidi Henkel.  Speaking against the bill were Nick Kliebenstein and Roxie Jewell.        

Council Member Kreeger pointed out that there should be no drilling on Interchange B until the risk assessment is completed.  In response to a line of questioning from Council Member Law-Evans, City Manager Ozaki made a surprise announcement that he had approved the risk assessment and Attorney Sullivan responded that he was satisfied that that Operator Agreement provisions about the risk assessment had been fulfilled.  There had been no announcement of any risk assessment approval elsewhere and no prior indication that City Manager Ozaki would make that decision before the public had a chance to ask questions at the Community Meeting.  At the February 19 Study Session, Council had asked for a Community Meeting to be held where both Council and residents would have a chance to ask questions.  This Community Meeting is set to occur on Friday, March 25 from 5 pm – 6:30 pm.   

Director of Strategic Initiatives Tami Yellico gave a very brief Oil and Gas Update as part of the Manager’s Report.  She repeated an announcement made on the Oil and Gas page that the drill rig would be moving onto Interchange B Pad tomorrow and drilling would likely begin March 21.  Ten wells will be drilled from the north side of the Interchange B Pad as the test case before drilling can begin on Livingston, which Ms. Yellico said may end up being later in June. 

Ms. Yellico stated that the first quarter report from the Air Monitoring Program would be presented at a public forum conducted by Ajax Analytics and CSU at the end of April.  They had received a request for the raw data from the IOT Sensors but that will not be available on the public portal until May. 

Adams County resident Barb Binder who lives near the Interchange Pads had requested the raw data due to a flare up of her respiratory disease from truck diesel fumes working on the pad.  She stated that she needed the real-time data from the pad to be able to make daily decisions on her outdoor activities nearby.  Both Ms. Binder and Ms. Kathy Swan-Bogard displayed graphs and monitoring maps showing recent alarming spikes in air quality measurements. 

Assistant Director of Strategic Initiatives Laura Davis stated that raw data needed to be analyzed and looked at in a regional context.  Council Member Groom asked if the City should accept resident complaints based on raw data, adding “I’m concerned with too many questions.”

Broomfield resident Jean Lim (author) pointed out that on Monday, March 11, Extraction received an enormous $803,800 fine from the COGCC for failing to perform Bradenhead testing at 5 sites in Weld County and 1 site in Larimer County.  Since the COGCC requires this pressure testing of the wellhead before production to ensure safe operations, she said this showed “why there should be super vigilance on the part of the City in overseeing this project and the enforcement of the BMPs” since “Extraction’s record shows that it will cut corners if given the chance.”  Ms. Yellico confirmed that Extraction did fail to do the Bradenhead tests but that they claimed to be hiring three people to do them in Broomfield.