Processing, approval of applications on hold until Dec. 4
Broomfield officials have enacted a six-month oil and gas moratorium aimed at giving the city time to update local ordinances to be more in line with the newly-passed state law that gives municipalities more control over such matters.
The moratorium, approved at the May 28 city council meeting, will halt until Dec. 4 the processing or approval of applications for use by special review or operator agreements to allow oil and gas operations in Broomfield.
Several residents came to speak in favor of the moratorium and Chris McGowne, who identified himself as the associate director of the Colorado Petroleum Council, came to speak against.
Residents in favor of the moratorium said they think it will give Broomfield time to dissect what can be done and revisit Issue 301 – a voter initiative that passed by a 57 % vote in 2017.
Essentially, the measure requires any vote about oil and gas development in Broomfield to consider the negative effects that the decision could have on residents. It requires the consideration of health and safety of Broomfield citizens to be the primary metric by which oil and gas decisions are made.
Some pointed out that rulemaking “hasn’t even begun” at the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and that Broomfield needs time to work on their own regulations.
McGowne brought up the same concerns he shared at a May 14 meeting when this moratorium came up for a first reading. He said companies that are members of the council always have benefited from a positive, collaborative and engaging relationship with Broomfield and that members always have taken a “pragmatic and proactive” approach to working with Broomfield and hope to continue to do so in the future.
McGowne said he understands the city wants to codify the new regulations, but that this moratorium is not needed to take such an action. Instead, he sees the action as a way to delay oil and gas development for as “long a time frame as possible.”
Ward 1 Councilwoman Elizabeth Law-Evans directed one response to McGowne, saying Broomfield has no intention of banning or keeping industry work constantly halted by a moratorium. The goal is to update regulations per the new state law, she said, adding an apology if she gave him a different impression.
If Broomfield didn’t have any permits pending, Ward 2 Councilman Mike Shelton said he wouldn’t know how to feel about a moratorium.
“I want to believe that the oil and gas companies want to produce this product and respect everybody that’s around them,” he said. “I just haven’t seen it that way. I haven’t seen it be positive, I haven’t seen it be collaborative, and I haven’t seen them be proactive about it. We defiantly need a six-month moratorium if we’re going to have Crestone (Peak Resources) operate under new regulations and not the ones we had so long ago.”
Members of council brought up the idea of a moratorium at previous meetings as a way to give city officials time to react to the passage of Senate Bill 181, which changes the mission of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and authorizes local governments to exercise additional regulatory authority over oil and gas operations without being preempted by state law. Gov. Jared Polis signed the bill into law on April 16.
Extraction Oil & Gas, Inc., in October 2017 signed an operator agreement with Broomfield to drill up to 84 new wells on six sites, which is not impacted by the new state law. Crews [split verb comment=”are “]currently are drilling on the Interchange B Pad south of the Northwest Parkway and between Interstate 25 and Huron Street.
Broomfield amended its oil and gas land use regulations in July and again in March, when the city increased setbacks of residential and “sensitive use developments” to oil and gas well sites.
The new law grants local governments more authority to regulate surface operations and nuisance impacts of oil and gas operations.
At an April 9 meeting, council members asked staff to review and begin drafting amendments to the Broomfield oil and gas ordinance to implement the broader authority granted by the law.
In late March, Adams County commissioners passed a moratorium, which can extend up to six months, for new applications for oil and gas drilling permits. Last month, Lafayette extended a moratorium that the council initially approved in November 2017.
The American Petroleum Institute issued a news release Tuesday evening, claiming Broomfield is the seventh Colorado community to enact a moratorium since SB 181 passed.
“We are disappointed that Broomfield City Council has chosen to impose a moratorium on new energy development. Its decision is misguided and harmful to our state,” Colorado Petroleum Council Executive Director Lynn Granger said about Broomfield’s vote. “Our industry prioritizes public health and safety and continues to take proactive measures to ensure that energy development is done safely and responsibly in collaboration with the priorities of Colorado communities. Nothing about Senate Bill 181 has changed our industry’s leadership role in environmental stewardship.”