Broomfield residents say the city isn't following guidelines set by a new law to prioritize health and safety over oil drilling.
A lawsuit filed this week by the nonprofit Residents Rights and the environmental group WildEarth Guardians says the city should have done more to adhere to requirements from a 2017 law, known as Measure 301. Propelled in part by the 2017 home explosion in Firestone, it requires city and county officials to weigh resident health and safety before approving oil and gas wells.
" I think all across Colorado we are seeing people saying that enough is enough. We want to be safe in our homes, we want to free from health concerns from an overreaching industry,” said Kim McNaughton with Residents Rights.
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The groups take specific issue with dozens of wells that Broomfield officials approved for Extraction Oil and Gas this fall. Of specific concern is how the city executed a risk assessment process, which plaintiffs allege was not properly followed.
Broomfield officials said they spent many months negotiating with Extraction Oil and Gas to include the most protective measures, which protect public health and safety. They say those measures go beyond what’s required by state law.
And Extraction Oil and Gas says the company took extra measures to ensure transparency, including participation with a citizen task force.
“It was an exhaustive and comprehensive process. At the end of that process, Broomfield city council basically gave us a thumbs up,” said Brian Cain, a spokesman for Extraction.
The lawsuit comes at a time when voters are considering a statewide ballot measure to increase the setback distance between wells and homes to 2,500 feet. In the past oil companies and local governments have praised Broomfield's process for being comprehensive and transparent.
Broomfield and Extraction officials have 14 days to respond in court.