LONGMONT, Colo. -- With all of the back and forth over fracking in Colorado, the city of Longmont is considering a different approach: pay drillers to move out of town and never come back. But after a council meeting full of public opinions against that idea, it’s been taken off the table – for now.
This “no surface use agreement” was discussed publicly for the first time Tuesday during a divisive city council meeting.
Under the proposal, two oil and gas companies, TOP Operating and Cub Creek LLC, would take the following steps:
- Plug and leave eight wells that are currently active
- Relinquish the rights to 11 future drilling sites
- Give up 80 potential well permits
- Never drill within Longmont city limits again
In return, Longmont would pay the companies $3 million and lease them mineral rights to some of city-owned open space. The money would come from future mineral royalties. The city says it believes, based on statewide “force pooling” of minerals, it would have to give up the rights from open space oil and gas anyway.
But many residents who came out to speak Tuesday evening were not in favor of the proposal. Many brought concerns about giving up open space royalties, issues with the payment amounts, and problems that this is the first the public has been able to hear about this.
“We own the mineral rights; they’re on our open space. We should not change our ordinances to allow them to be extracted by oil and gas,” one resident said.
Another person brought a sign to the meeting reading: “Protect our heath. No fracking.”
The council voted unanimously just before 10 p.m. to remove this agreement from the consent agenda, meaning it would not be voted on or approved on Tuesday. It still would have required a second vote later in the month to actually happen, but at least for now, the agreement is shelved pending future actions by the city council.