Council Strongly Opposes Drilling At Rocky Flats; Some Well Permits and Spacing Unit Applications Remain

At the Nov. 13 Council Meeting, Broomfield Director of Special Initiatives Tami Yellico announced that Highlands Natural Resources Corporation (Highlands) had withdrawn its well permits (Form 2A and 2s) from the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) for the pad proposed at the NW corner of State Highway 128 and Indiana Street in Superior.  However, according to Ms. Yellico and the COGCC website, the spacing unit for that area has not been withdrawn and two other spacing unit applications from Highlands remain active.  This is inconsistent with a statement in The Daily Camera that “Town Manager Matt Magley said Highlands Natural Resources Corp. planned to withdraw all drilling and spacing applications for the site, a small undeveloped portion of Superior situated within Jefferson County at the intersection of McCaslin Boulevard and Colo. 128.”  Both the article and Ms. Yellico’s report at Council agreed that there are still submitted permits for 14 wells in the spacing unit in Sections 9 and 10, with a pad along Highway 93 and wells going to the east, as shown on the map.

Council Members Shelton and Groom both serve on the Rocky Flats Stewardship Council and warned of the dangers involved in fracking the former nuclear weapons production facility which is a Superfund Cleanup site.  Council Member Shelton stated that there are ongoing remediation efforts to keep water and soil in place so that remaining plutonium is not stirred up.  The Department of Energy works to keep the land stabilized and Council Member Shelton warned that heavy vibrations might lead to further settling in the area.  He pointed out that it has been a prescribed burn area, indicating heavy vegetation that would be apt to spread surface fires from drilling activity.  Council Member Groom stated that taxpayers had already spent over $30 billion to clean up the site and should not be made to pay any more for it in light of drilling activity.

Council Member Tessier encouraged local governments to band together to protest, and Council Member Erickson qualified that with “protest strenuously.”  Council Member Law-Evans asked questions about mineral right ownership under Rocky Flats and Attorney Sullivan pointed out that Highlands claims to own all of them but the accuracy of that is not likely.  Mayor Ahrens referred to his comments at the Town of Superior Board of Trustees Meeting on Monday evening, clarifying that Broomfield has no authority or jurisdiction over the matter and suggesting that Superior might want to pass a resolution for a 6 month oil and gas moratorium during which they would enhance their oil and gas regulations.  Staff was directed to do whatever in their power to oppose the Highlands applications.

Broomfield resident Patty Sullivan examined the applications through the lens of a civil engineer and proclaimed the risks caused by a site contaminated by plutonium with its long half life.  She also pointed out that Highlands was on the verge of bankruptcy and that residents of Superior were “scared to death” of the operator getting permits for this drilling operation.

Broomfield residents are also fearful of Extraction Oil and Gas development, Broomfield resident Lois Vanderkoii reminded Council in earlier general public comments.  She reminded Council of this in conjunction with a request that the City should honor citizen complaints with full investigations, such as were needed for the recent hydrogen sulfide release complaints.  Broomfield resident Jean Lim (author) asked the City for further investigation of the cause of the Noble Energy Fire in Weld County on Nov. 7, which occurred during well completions involving Liberty Oilfield Services, a company slated to do the same work on Extraction’s Broomfield pads.  Broomfield Health and Safety First (BHSF) also submitted written comments opposing the Rocky Flats permits, asking why the Broomfield Public Health Emergency Operations Plan did not contain an oil and gas emergency plan, expressing concern about the Erie Acme Pad, suggesting that the City not file to dismiss the WildEarth Guardians and Residents Rights lawsuit, and supporting consideration by the Adams 12 School Board to not sign a mineral lease with Extraction for Coyote Ridge Elementary.   Please see the entire BHSF letter here.

At about 9 pm, Council adjourned to enter Executive Session.  They were to discuss:

“(1) legal advice to determine positions relative to matters that may be subject to negotiations and to direct negotiators relating to oil and gas property interests.”

“(2) legal advice related to spacing unit applications filed with the COGCC by Highlands Natural Resources Corporation.”

“(3) legal advice regarding civil action no. 2018CV30316, filed by WildEarth Guardians and Residents Rights.”