Despite opposition from residents, Broomfield city council approves 21 new 'fracking' wells

BROOMFIELD, Colo. - Despite strong opposition from residents, the Broomfield city council on Tuesday night unanimously approved an agreement allowing Sovereign Energy LLC to install 21 new gas wells using hydraulic fracturing in the county.

City leaders stressed that the memorandums of understanding also require the company follow new, stricter environmental regulations set by the council.

Mayor Pro Tem Greg Stokes told 7NEWS Reporter Lindsey Sablan the new agreement updates the Broomfield's oil and gas policies from 1993. Stokes said it has "30-some elements" that go above and beyond state regulations for hydraulic fracturing -- also known as fracking.

But the council's action only fueled the anger of a residents' group, Our Broomfield, which urged the council all summer to ban fracking for the next five years.

Earlier this summer, the group collected enough signatures to get a five-year fracking moratorium placed on Broomfield's November ballot. Now, they accuse the council of going behind their backs to approve wells before November's election.

"We've worked really hard this summer to get thousands of voters to sign a petition to bring this measure to the ballot, and we were successful," resident Laura Fronckiewicz before the vote. "If the city council signs an agreement prior to Broomfield voters having a chance to vote on it, that's a concern to us that it's undermining the democratic process."

Fronckiewicz said she chose to live in Broomfield because it's an ideal location to raise a family. Now, the mother of two said she's concerned for her children's health.

"There's scientific studies that show living within a half mile of a well increases your risk of cancer. There's anecdotal evidence that we've heard over in Erie, that mothers bring their kids home with bloody noses, headaches, with unexplained rashes. As a mom, those are concerns," she said.

Stokes said the council took residents' concerns into account and that's why they developed a new policy that imposes strict rules on oil and gas companies. He told 7NEWS there "has to be solution somewhere in the middle."

If voters pass the fracking moratorium measure in November, it's unclear what affect it might have on the wells the council approved on Tuesday night.

In February, the council approved 10 wells to be fracked by Sovereign Energy LLC.

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