Open Legal and Procedural Questions As Drilling Goes Forward on Livingston

Residents continue to ask why spudding began on June 3 on the Extraction Livingston Pad when there are legal and procedural matters which are open-ended.  These resident questions are added to unresolved issues related to complaints about the health impacts of odor from the Interchange Pad and truck traffic violations near the Livingston Pad.  (Spudding is the initial step of drilling a well that uses a smaller rig instead of the 100 foot rig used in the actual drilling of the wellbore.) 

Here are some of the legal and procedural questions residents are asking:

1) What is the status of Judge Jackson’s stay on drilling Livingston in the Wildgrass Oil and Gas Committee’s (WOGc) federal constitutional rights case WOGc v. COGCC?   

On May 24, WOGc filed a Motion for Extension to Stay Drilling Operations in the federal constitutional rights case WOGc v. COGCC which was set to expire at the beginning of June.  Intervenors Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA) & American Petroleum Institute (API) filed a response in opposition.  The Attorney General’s office on behalf of the COGCC submitted a notice of nonposition.  WOGc submitted a reply to COGA’s opposition response on June 5.  There is no timeline for Judge Jackson to make his decision on the request for extension.

2) What is the status of the Residents Rights Lawsuit against the City?

Please read the Residents Rights statement from mid May here after Judge Anderson’s ruling in favor of Broomfield’s Motion to Dismiss the case of Residents Rights and WildEarth Guardians v. City and County of Broomfield and Broomfield City Manager Charles Ozaki.  It states that the plaintiffs are “evaluating next steps.” 

According to a 6/5 Broomfield Enterprise article, Extraction filed a motion on May 29 seeking $15,000 in attorney fees.  Resident Rights will ask the court to dismiss the request.  In the article, Kim McNaughton of Residents Rights stated, “Here in the United States, we have the right to free speech and that means the right to question our courts to resolve those issues.”      

3) Why is Broomfield allowing Extraction to spud the Livingston Pad when all the necessary permits are not secured for the Livingston wells? 

Here is a summary table showing the status of the Livingston wells, where you can see that 6 out of 19 wells are not fully permitted nor had mineral rights secured by Extraction:

Livingston Well Submission of Permit by Extraction COGCC Permit Approval Extraction Has Mineral Rights
Livingston S19-25-1N NO NO NO
Livingston S20-25-2C Yes NO NO
Livingston S19-25-15N Yes NO NO
Livingston S20-25-3N Yes Yes NO
Livingston S20-25-4N Yes Yes NO
Livingston S20-25-5C Yes Yes NO
13 Wells in Lowell South Yes Yes Yes- through forced pooling

At the May 28 Council Meeting, Director of Strategic Initiatives Tami Yellico stated that the Operator Agreement does not allow the City to object to drilling in light of the fact that Extraction has not secured all the necessary COGCC permits for drilling the Livingston wells, saying the Operator Agreement only regulates the number of wells drilled at each pad.  At Council on May 28, Jean Lim (author) pointed out that the City doesn’t know if Extraction will attach the BMPs when it submits the Livingston S19-25-1N permit, the well that has been contested for years by Wildgrass Section 12/13 due to Extraction’s refusal to acknowledge their mineral rights.     

In a follow-up email, Jean asked if the City could provide the public with notice of the Livingston well Extraction is drilling at a given point in time so the public would know that none of the 6 Livingston wells with incomplete permits or unsecured mineral rights are being drilled.  The City responded that the City inspectors know what wells are being drilled but did not state that the City would supply the public with that information.  The City stated that it is the COGCC’s responsibility to track well drilling by operators.  However, the COGCC does not require the operator to provide the information on what well it drilled until 60 days after it is drilled.   

4)  Is there a chance that the unpermitted Livingston wells will not be permitted or the mineral rights will not be force pooled?

Under the COGCC Director’s Interim Guidelines, the three unpermitted Livingston wells should be given greater scrutiny due to their proximity to residences.

The three permitted Livingston wells for which there is a pending WOGc mineral owner forced pooling protest are in the Sheridan South spacing unit.  It is unclear at this time when this forced pooling hearing will occur. 

All the COGCC dockets were taken down after the May hearings were postponed.  There have been no prehearings held yet for the COGCC June 17 & 18 hearings, which is not following normal procedure.