Huge Crowds Watch As Greeley OKs Drilling Project In City Limits

Photo: Greeley oil and gas meeting March 2016 (GH)
More than 300 people turned out for a public hearing on a oil and gas drilling plan in Greeley, Colo. on March 8, 2016.

The Greeley City Council approved a plan late Tuesday to drill 22 oil and gas wells inside city limits.

The council heard hours of testimony over the controversial project -- most of it in opposition, but ultimately sided with drillers by a 5-2 vote. The city's planning commission had originally rejected the project, but Extraction Oil and Gas appealed the decision to the City Council.

Members weighed testimony from more than 40 residents -- like Margaret Lewis.

“Many of us who live in Mountain Vista East are retired, and our homes are the largest part of our assets," Lewis said. "We understand that extraction has a right to drill should not impinge on our financial wellbeing and our rights to enjoy our property.”

More than 300 residents turned out to watch the proceedings.

Ghislaine Torres Bruner, an attorney representing Extraction Oil and Gas, said the Triple Creek Oil and Gas Directional Project is the product of "months and months of determined study and thought."

"Extraction and its predecessors have been working with the city staff for more than two years," Torres Bruner said.

It would allow 22 oil and gas wells; 22 separators, 22 crude oil tanks and two produced water tanks on approximately 69 acres of residential low-density property. It's located near 71st Avenue and 18th Street. All the wells would be located at least 1,000 away from homes -- that's double the state's required setback.

Greeley is in Weld County—which produces the majority of the state’s oil. The city isn’t the only place grappling with resident complaints over development. Adams County is in the middle of a six-week moratorium on development of new oil and gas wells.

A decision on the legality of voter-approved fracking bans and moratoriums is expected by the Colorado Supreme Court this spring.