Citizen Blog by Cristen Logan
As a concerned resident of Broomfield, I wanted to take the time to share an opinion on what is happening with the lawsuit two organizations put forward against the City and County of Broomfield. I think that it is important that the community learns more about what is happening in this case because this impacts all of us.
A local organization, Residents Rights, is working with a national organization, WildEarth Guardians, who also represents members in Broomfield, to challenge the City’s approval of the Comprehensive Drilling Plan in local District Court. Members of these organizations believe the City failed to adequately protect its residents by waiving the requirement in the Operator Agreement that required Extraction to complete a rigorous Quantitative Risk Analysis, to analyze the likelihood and severity of the risks to public health and safety from Extraction’s Comprehensive Drilling Plan. These organizations question if the City Manager had the authority to waive a requirement of the Operator Agreement. All the negotiations for the final approval of the Comprehensive Drilling Plan between Extraction and the City were done outside of the public arena, so there is also a question if Open Meetings Law violations occurred.
Instead of allowing these grievances to be heard in the Court, Broomfield, along with Extraction Oil and Gas filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit. The arguments made in these motions, along with additional arguments in their subsequent response show a coordination between the City and Extraction. In these arguments, it becomes incredibly clear that The City and County of Broomfield does not believe that the Residents of Broomfield should have the ability to hold their elected officials accountable in any capacity. The City also puts forward the argument that the right of Residents to pass local legislation is essentially meaningless because if the Council does not agree with what was passed, they can override or choose not to enforce the Charter. The City also claims that since the Residents are not party to a contract put in place by the City, they have no way to intervene if the City chooses not to follow the terms of the agreement or if the City decides to negotiate the agreement outside of a public vote. Links to these documents are attached [listed at the end of this blog] if you would like to read them in entirety.
In addition, Extraction Oil and Gas has asked the court to allow it to intervene and become a party in this case. The plaintiffs oppose this request in part because the City and Extraction appear to have entered into a ‘secret settlement’ whereby the City would approve the CDP without the need for Extraction to do a rigorous Quantitative Risk Assessment, so it could avoid Extraction’s threatened lawsuit. See the emails attached to Kim McNaughton’s Second Declaration [at the end of this blog] to learn more about what has been going on behind closed doors against the citizens’ interests. The City is raising all the arguments Extraction wants them to raise and has taken over Extraction’s responsibility for doing a risk analysis by contracting with a third party for a less rigorous Hazard Identification (HAZID) assessment, at taxpayers’ expense (which was supposedly due October 15 but has not been produced). Clearly the City is an adequate representative of Extraction’s interests, which is why Plaintiffs have asked the Court to deny Extraction’s Motion to Intervene.
Broomfield, working alongside of Extraction Oil and Gas, is attempting to take away the rights of its own residents and is actively allowing the overreach of the oil and gas industry to continue. By attacking one of our fundamental rights, the constitutional right of initiative, the City is attempting to take away our ability to pass our own legislation to ensure our City protects our health and safety in a way that we see fit, during a time when we do not feel like the City is working in a way that adequately represents the will of the people. This is a direct threat to a fundamental right provided to Residents in the State of Colorado. These arguments, if successful, will take away the right for residents to challenge their government, and will take away the powers reserved by the founders of our state for self-governance. Broomfield is taking an extreme position with their actions and is threatening our democracy. We all should be outraged.
Supporting Documents (click on titles) :
Citizens concerned about large-scale hydraulic fracturing in residential communities are invited to submit their opinions for posting on our website by emailing them to firstname.lastname@example.org.