Who could have predicted that the least contentious item during the Jan. 9 City Council meeting would be Item 13b “Update on Oil and Gas Issues?” After hearing about a dozen critical citizen comments regarding Extraction’s Comprehensive Drilling Plan (CDP) submitted on December 15, Broomfield Special Counsel Tami Yellico stated that the Staff had already noted many of the same deficiencies in the 720-page document. When asked by Council Member Kreeger if it was safe to say that the CDP would not be approved, Ms. Yellico agreed that “we will not approve the plan in its current form.” After the process of gathering all comments on the CDP is completed by the City on January 20 and they are submitted to Extraction, Ms. Yellico also agreed to make a request to the State (COGCC) that Extraction’s Form 2 and 2A permits not be reviewed by the COGCC until Extraction provides a CDP revision. That would “reset the clock” according to the October 24 operator agreement, in which Extraction was required to submit the CDP to the City 30 days before submitting its Form 2 and 2A permits to the COGCC.
In another announcement at the end of the meeting, City Attorney Tuthill stated that the City had received a written legal opinion by special oil and gas attorney Phil Barber on the implications of Ballot Question 301 and about the October 24 operator agreement between Extraction and the City. Attorney Tuthill told Council Members that the document would be available for their review in the next day or so but that “discussions ought to take place in executive session.” Mayor Ahrens then shortcutted the usual Council procedure and Council immediately voted to hold an executive session on the operator agreement between the City and Extraction and how 301 affects this moving forward.
City Manager Ozaki began item 13b in the City Manager’s report by stating that he “appreciated the substantial number of comments from the public” on the CDP. All fourteen citizens making comments asked that the Extraction CDP not be approved, frequently referring to the December 22 explosion in Windsor at an Extraction site as reason not to proceed until the cause is resolved.
Several speakers referred to very detailed lists of CDP deficiencies that they had already submitted to Council. Michael Win of Anthem Ranch stated that he had been “managing an engineering company for more than 37 years” but “rarely had I found myself reading a proposal or document” with so many problems as “the Comprehensive Drilling Plan for Broomfield submitted by Extraction.” He submitted to Council a detailed extrapolation of the CDP noise section data which showed the project will exceed the noise limits set by the Broomfield Comprehensive Plan developed by the Oil and Gas Task Force. Jennifer Gamble of Adams County Communities for Drilling Accountability Now (ACCDAN) submitted a six-page analysis of the CDP, pointing to both technical and obvious errors. These included the egregious error that the Emissions Inventory and Impact Analysis had been prepared on the wrong sites (the original United, Huron, Sheridan and Lowell locations). Several other Adams County residents referred to the fact that the traffic plan lacked a light at the intersection of the access road and Huron.
In further Council comments related to Ballot Question 301, Council Member Law-Evans said that she hoped that 301 might be “the dragon-slayer.” By this, Council Member Law-Evans meant that she hoped that the City, through direction of its legal counsel, would be able to implement a legal strategy that had the best chance of long-term success in the courts. Earlier in the evening, Council Member Shaff had cited Ballot Question 301 as a reason to question if the proposed purchase of 75 acres for a Broomfield park next to I-25 and 682 feet from an oil well would “prioritize the health and safety of citizens.”
Ms. Yellico also reported that she had met with Attorney Matt Sura and 301 Co-Chairs Judy Kelly and Neil Allaire to discuss 301. Ms. Yellico stated that their requests seemed to focus on their ability to comment on the CDP, having input on the municipal code revisions, and suggestions to secure an Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) officer with the COGCC to have the local ability to cite operators.
Several Council members thanked the citizens for their efforts in already reviewing the CDP, which Council Member Shelton referred to as “great crowdsourcing.” Council Member Castriotta cited the fact that almost a dozen citizens had to leave and were unable to make citizen comments because of the late hour and requested that such issues be discussed earlier in the evening. The City requests that written comments be submitted by January 20 so they can give them to Extraction.