BROOMFIELD, Colo. – Hundreds of people showed up to a Broomfield City Council meeting Tuesday night to have their voices heard on a new city moratorium on fracking as an oil and gas company readies plans to drill dozens of wells near a neighborhood.
Crowds filled the city hall chambers and overflow crowds had to be moved into the lobby, basement and nearby courtrooms for the hearing. Police even had to turn some people away because the building was at capacity.
There were hours of public comment on the proposed six-month moratorium on hydraulic fracturing in the latest fight by a Colorado city to control something they haven’t had much success doing as of late.
Laurie Anderson can see the proposed drilling site from her backyard, and worries about the health and safety of her children should new wells go in.
“I am concerned about the air quality of the air they are breathing, the toxic chemicals that do come with it,” she said. “There is no guarantee those will stay within the regulated setbacks of the well sites.”
There are 139 planned wells proposed at the site, near homes, schools and parks.
“The community wasn’t created to be industrial,” said one person who testified at the meeting. “It was created to be Broomfield.”
“For my family,” said another person, “we will not sit around and wait.”
The moratorium under consideration would give the city time to impose new land use rules and road impact fees.
But Extraction Oil and Gas, the company contracted to drill the wells, promised it is listening to community concerns – planning to reduce the number of wells near homes, to install a pipeline to reduce traffic and to use electric drilling rigs to dampen noise.
“Once completed, this project will be one of the best-developed onshore projects that can be found anywhere in the United States,” said Extraction Oil and Gas Vice President Eric Jacobson.
Others pointed out that moratoriums have already been overturned in court and said the fight would be a waste of taxpayer money.
But that’s not enough for those who don’t want fracking in their backyards.
“Will Broomfield lose this battle in court? Potentially,” said Broomfield Clean Air and Water spokeswoman Laurie Anderson. “But the citizens are worth fighting for. Our health and safety of our community is worth fighting for.”
The city council unanimously voted earlier in the night that there should be city approval for the sale or transfer of any city or county-owned properties, including mineral rights.
But public comment on the moratorium was ongoing as of 10:10 p.m. and expected to last at least another half-hour. A decision may come late Tuesday.