Questions About Extraction’s Risk Management Plan Dominate Tense Council Meeting

At the June 12 Council Meeting, the discussion of Item 11c Comprehensive Drilling Plan (CDP) Update began with Extraction Vice President Eric Jacobsen demanding that “the CDP be approved administratively tonight by your City Manager” before the City Staff’s presentation had even occurred or Council’s discussion had taken place.   In the subsequent presentation by Broomfield Director of Special Initiatives Tami Yellico, she brought up several issues which were not resolved in the CDP, including grading of the pads and the fact that Extraction did not fully complete its risk registry as requested by Staff.  As the first Council Member to speak, Council Member Kevin Kreeger followed up to ask questions about Extraction’s Risk Management Plan.  Council Member Kreeger’s persistence in trying to hold Extraction accountable for this required part of the CDP resulted in VP Eric Jacobsen stating “we’re out of here” as the Extraction representatives left the room.  That was followed shortly thereafter by Council Member Shelton pointing out that Extraction left after being present to discuss the project, and Council Member Kreeger then stated that Extraction chose to leave.  Council Members Shelton and Groom left the chambers shortly after that and did not return.

Extraction Vice President Eric Jacobsen’s opening remarks recalled what he considered Extraction’s “unprecedented engagement” in working on the CDP with the Staff that should have been approved “weeks, if not months ago.”  (See our recent blog on the CDP here and on December’s first version of the CDP here.)  He claimed that “the process [of approval] was much more complicated than what was reasonable,” showing “concerning behavior.”  After he recounted that the Staff told him that they were “looking for consensus or a head nod” for the CDP from Council, he stated that Extraction sent a letter to the City asking that “certain Council members recuse themselves from that deliberation due to the bias that they have exhibited publicly against Extraction.”  The City replied that this was not necessary, and Mr. Jacobsen demanded that “any direction that may be explicitly or implicitly sought by Staff for approval be given tonight.”

Mr. Jacobsen continued by stating that it was just “fear mongering” to talk about risks for an industry which was safe and sarcastically asked when there would be a “construction task force” since the construction industry was six times as accident prone as the oil and gas industry.  After recounting some of the Best Management Practices (BMPs) in the project, Mr. Jacobsen stated that “we will not negotiate with Broomfield tonight or in the coming weeks, that time has passed” and strongly requested that “the CDP be approved administratively tonight by your City Manager.”

(To listen to Eric Jacobsen’s introductory remarks, go to 2:26:00 on the June 12 Council audio that can be downloaded here

After Ms. Yellico remarked that Extraction had not complied with the Staff’s request to identify all the material risks (see 2:46:00 in the video), ten citizens spoke about the inadequacies of the CDP and only one spoke to encourage Council to approve the CDP quickly.  Laurie Anderson and Cristen Logan both pointed out that the Risk Management Plan in the CDP was not complete and the CDP should not be approved.  Ann Marie Cleary and Lizzie Lario recalled Extraction’s list of four accidents since December to challenge Extraction VP Eric Jacobsen’s claim that Extraction always had safe operations.  In general comments, Janeen McDonald expressed her sorrow that she and her husband were faced with a very difficult decision on whether or not to forgo their deposit on building a house in Anthem Highlands in reflecting on “how could I possibly move my family” there and risk their health next to the Livingston Pad.  They had also attended the COGCC Hearing on June 11 in Greeley.

The questions about the Risk Management Plan involved Extraction inserting a Risk Management table with listed risks which was first used by the Comprehensive Task Force Committee.  The author of that table had inserted sample percentage likelihoods into the table but had instructed users to insert their own operator likelihoods into the table.  In the final version of the CDP under review on June 12, Extraction still had that table in the CDP but claimed that the table had much higher percentages than would occur in their operations.  When Council Member Kreeger asked Extraction what their percentages were since they stated that those in the document were too high, Extraction stated that it was not required by the Operator Agreement to include the risk percentages.  Council Member Kreeger concluded that Extraction either put false data in the document or failed to include a required part of the CDP.

Extraction also refused to answer Council Member Kreeger’s question about the root cause of the Extraction Windsor explosion.  VP Jacobsen stated that the State was satisfied with the current inconclusive causal analysis and Extraction had done their own internal analysis, while admitting that OSHA’s report was still outstanding.   VP Jacobsen asked if Council Member Kreeger asked as many questions about the fires in Broomfield as he was about the Windsor explosion. Extraction also stated that the Berthoud mud spill would not occur in Broomfield, although they admitted that they were not certain of the cause and that they just “voluntarily” helped clean up the spill since they were nearby drilling.

Council Member Castriotta pointed out that the first Comprehensive Drilling Plan that Extraction submitted in December was full of errors caused by cutting and pasting, even referring to injection wells.  Council Member Law-Evans predicted that there would be “a big fat lawsuit on the city’s desk about 10 a.m.”  She also asked Deputy Chief Jeff Bybee about accident records in Broomfield, and he stated that there had been one injury and one death in oil and gas operations in Broomfield so far.  Council Member Deven Shaff asked about Extraction’s statement in the document that it is their policy at times to transfer risk to third parties.  City Attorney Sean Sullivan said it was not likely that Extraction could transfer that risk to the City.  Deputy Chief Bybee responded to Council Member Shaff’s questions about the adequacy of fire hydrants near the projects by stating that there is not currently one within 1000 feet of every pad as desired.  Council Members Beacom and Jezerski were absent from the meeting.

Before the discussion of the CDP, Council’s second reading and likely final vote on the regulations was moved to July 10 with a unanimous vote by Council.  Council Member Kreeger proposed the motion to continue the public hearing for item 11b due to continuing work by the Staff, Council and residents on the regulations.  There were many high profile oil and gas organization officials in attendance, presumably ready to make comments on the regulations.  Broomfield resident Nick Kliebenstein asked Council to apologize to those who were present to speak on the regulations and did not get to do so.

You can listen to the entire June 12 meeting here.