What’s Next for the CDP: Staff Will Review Public Comments and Present Acceptable Version to Extraction

After hearing over twenty-five citizens and Council members comment on numerous deficiencies in Extraction’s Comprehensive Drilling Plan (CDP) on August 14, City and County of Broomfield (CCOB) Manager Ozaki stated that the Staff would review those comments with special focus on enhancing the risk management plan.  However, it seems there will be no further opportunity for public review or comment as the Staff compiles a version of the CDP that it finds acceptable to present to Extraction for their approval.

“We will have the final plan and that will be the only plan approved,” according to CCOB Manager Ozaki.  The final version will be based on the July 27 CDP, with additional provisions from CCOB Manager Ozaki’s list of approval conditions and what Staff finds important from citizen comments.  However, after Council Member Shaff listed at least eight deficiencies in the CDP when compared to the Operator Agreement, he asked, “How many conditions does it require to move from approval with conditions to rejection of the CDP?”

CCOB Manager Ozaki described details of the CDP review process that had not previously been revealed to the public.  After four previous versions of the CDP had been found deficient by the City, Extraction had submitted a fifth version on July 27.  The City decided to use it as the new baseline since “the City felt there was substantial progress between the May 11 to July 27 versions,” according to CCOB Manager Ozaki.  He added that Council asked the Staff to make the July 27 version public and “Extraction didn’t like that.”  Extraction then withdrew its July 27 version and threatened to go back to an earlier version.  Based on Council comments, it was not clear if that threat pointed to the April or May version.  In Council Member Shelton’s comments, he requested that there be better communication from the City Manager’s office going forward.

Even if all the “rules” are eventually in place in the CDP, trust of Extraction’s willingness to follow the rules was questioned due to a recent Extraction violation that CCOB Manager Ozaki said was being investigated.  Apparently, in grading for a pipeline, Extraction’s subcontractor bulldozed over a burrowing owl habitat of a protected species.  Council Member Castriotta pointed out, “We are already dealing with an enforcement problem and Extraction’s assurances are already broken.”  Council Member Jezerski said that he had recently been onsite with Extraction when there had ironically been a discussion of protection of burrowing owls.

In her citizen comments, Lois Vanderkooi pointed out that Extraction’s continual sloppy work in writing the CDP led her to question, “How can we trust you [Extraction] to protect us?”  Jennifer Dulles praised the work of Broomfield residents in scrutinizing the CDP and mused, “What is curious to me, however, is why my esteemed neighbors have had to, in essence, review and write a major corporation’s plan.”

In fact, many citizens had just worked on a 16-page spreadsheet of CDP deficiencies submitted by Laurie Anderson to the City on Tuesday afternoon.  Council Member Erickson said that she appreciated the good information provided in it.  This spreadsheet was following up to an earlier general letter submitted by ten local organizations urging the City to reject the CDP.  The City also released 1000 pages of comments sent to Council on oil and gas issues in one month’s time from July 10, 2018, through 2 p.m. on August 14, 2018.

The inadequate risk management plan in the CDP may finally get the attention that so many citizens have been asking for, according to its recent addition to Manager Ozaki’s list of approval conditions.  Pat Talbot and Laurie Anderson had met with the City earlier in the week to discuss its importance and what had to be clarified in it, including the cumulative effect of 24 “near negligible” risks listed by Extraction.  Council Member Kreeger listed many missing pieces in the risk assessment, including the data that led to Extraction’s general risk statements.  Council Member Groom stated that she would like to see a risk matrix put in the plan.

Jackie Bonavita, Jennifer Bertram and Heidi Hinkel spoke of the lack of emergency preparedness plans at Prospect Ridge Academy School and how expensive it would be for the school to buy a new HVAC system or adequate VOC respiratory masks.  A few Council members commented to Staff that they would like the CDP to require Extraction to pay for those expenses.

Ms. Yellico did a one-hour presentation reviewing the sections of the CDP, along with whether or not her July 6 comments had been addressed by Extraction in their July 27 CDP and its corresponding greenline document.  A new requirement added on Tuesday was that Extraction should include a list of wells being soil tested and when each would be completed.  Although the Interchange, Northwest and United Pads are still not permitted by the COGCC, Ms. Yellico did state in her presentation that the COGCC had just informed her that they had approved the new haul road near Adams County residents and it would be included in the permits.

John Dulles stated that he was disappointed that citizens were given the impression that comments would be from 5 p.m. – 6 p.m. but they didn’t begin until 6 p.m.  He said he thought it was disrespectful that they started so late, forcing many parents with school age children to miss their opportunity to speak.  Cristen Logan stayed for 6 p.m. citizen comments in order to object to the attempt by the City to limit citizen comments earlier in the evening and not having any going forward on the CDP.

During the “6 p.m. Council Meeting” that began at 8:15 p.m., three amendments to the City’s July 10 Oil and Gas Regulations were considered.  They were:

1) An ordinance amending the subdivision regulation to increase setbacks to 1320 feet from oil and gas well sites.  Kyle Harris, an attorney for developer McWhinney, pointed to problems with the mechanics of the waiver provision and unintended consequences with siting.  Council Member Shaff stated that there was no such waiver language in similar regulations in neighboring municipalities and that was the intention of Broomfield’s Comprehensive Task Force also.  Council Member Law-Evans said that she would only support a setback notice that popped up in title work.  Generally, Council felt the ordinance needed to be reworked by Staff and voted to continue it to a Study Session.

2) An ordinance providing for a hearing process for complaints related to oil and gas development.  Council Member Law-Evans stated this was a “solution looking for a problem” and that she could not support it.  Council Member Shelton was concerned that citizens would not be forced to specify the code being violated.  Council Member Groom claimed the hearing process could take up to 50% of a department head’s time.  Council Member Kreeger said that he had no idea where 50% would be coming from and if it did take that much time, then there were real problems that needed to be investigated.  In referring to previous discussion at the July 17 Study Session, Jean Lim asked for greater transparency in the City’s online reporting system of individual complaints in order to lay the foundation for this hearing process.  Again, Council felt the ordinance needed to be reworked by Staff and voted to continue it to a Study Session.

3) A resolution that whenever any COGCC Form 2 and 2A permits arise within Broomfield that there be a City Council agenda item to discuss if the City should request a COGCC hearing.  This passed by a vote of 7-1, with Council Member Beacom voting against it without stating any reasons.