Tag: moratorium

Broomfield Passes Six-Month Oil & Gas Moratorium

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.”

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Broomfield Takes First Step To Enact Six-Month Oil & Gas Moratorium

Broomfield City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved the first reading of a six-month oil and gas moratorium aimed at allowing the city time to update local ordinances in light of the newly passed state law that gives municipalities more control.

The moratorium will halt until Nov. 14 the processing or approval of applications for use by special review or operator agreements to allow oil and gas operations in Broomfield.

Ward 1 Councilwoman Elizabeth Law-Evans was one of several members in favor of the time frame, despite multiple residents and at least one council member pushing for a 10-month moratorium. She agreed with Ward 4 Councilman Kevin Kreeger’s comments that if Broomfield needed more time, council could vote to extend the moratorium.

“The point is to allow us to make good, solid decisions,” Law-Evans said. “I don’t feel the point of this is to penalize the industry. This has nothing to do with ‘not being open for business’ or penalizing the industry. It’s more about us taking the time to consider how the state laws changed and how we need to deal with it as a community.”

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.

Chris McGowne, who identified himself as the associate director with the Colorado Petroleum Council, said the organization has taken a “pragmatic and proactive problem-solving approach” in Broomfield and hopes to continue, but finds itself at a crossroads.

When conversations were underway, proponents of the bill assured oil and gas industry industry members it would not impede development, that they would be welcome and that it wouldn’t result in bans at the local level, McGowne said.

This moratorium “sends a message that we are not welcome,” he said.

Broomfield, Erie and unincorporated Adams County residents attended the meeting to comment on the moratorium, some grateful for the six-month timeline and others wanting 10 months.

Christopher Cleary, who is running for the Ward 3 Broomfield City Council seat in November, was one resident who believed the moratorium should go beyond six  months since there could be up to five new faces on council and a new mayor when the moratorium expires. Mayor Randy Ahrens is term limited.

“(Senate Bill) 181 is going to give you a whole new set of tools to be able to act on,” he said, adding that time is needed for the “new blood” on council to influence new regulations.

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 are currently drilling on the Interchange B Pad south of the Northwest Parkway and between Interstate 25 and Huron Street.

“They have to complete eight wells there first before they can move onto Livingston Pad,” Broomfield Director of Strategic Initiatives Tami  Yellico said.

Extraction has to give Broomfield notice before that happens, she said.

The Denver-based oil and gas company has drilled five wells and is expected to move onto the sixth well this week.

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.

“In order to develop new regulations to implement SB19-181 in a thoughtful manner that provides more clarity and certainty to oil and gas operators about Broomfield’s requirements without trying to simultaneously review and process applications to develop oil and gas wells, facilities and projects, a temporary moratorium on processing such applications is necessary,” the city stated in a memo for Tuesday’s meeting.

The new law grants local governments more authority to regulate surface operations and nuisance impacts of oil and gas operations without being preempted by state law, according to the memo.

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.

“A six-month moratorium would provide the time to develop appropriate amendments that provide clarity and certainty to operators as to Broomfield’s requirements to protect the health, safety, and welfare of Broomfield’s residents in their workplaces, their homes, their schools, and public parks in order to protect the public’s health, safety, and welfare and to safeguard the environment and wildlife resources,” the memo states.

Other communities in the area also are enacting moratoriums.

In late March, Adams County commissioners passed a moratorium, which can extend up to six months, to new applications for oil and gas drilling permits. Last month Lafayette extended a moratorium that the council initially approved in November 2017.

A second reading on the moratorium will take place at 6 p.m. May 28.

Article by Jennifer Rios
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