October 4, 2018
Crestone Drilling Proposal Postponed Indefinitely
Boulder County requested that the COGCC postpone its hearing on the CDP pending the outcome of its lawsuit filed Sept. 25.
Boulder County, Colo. (Oct. 4, 2018) - Today, the Colorado Oil and Gas Commission (COGCC) postponed its scheduled hearing on the Crestone Peak Resources Operating, LLC Comprehensive Drilling Plan (CDP) proposal in Boulder County.
The hearing is tabled indefinitely pending the outcome of Board of County Commissioners of Boulder County v. Crestone Peak Resources Operating, LLC, the case filed by Boulder County on Sept. 25, 2018 in Boulder District Court. The COGCC hearing is also tabled until all appeals that may result from the court case are completed. The COGCC planned originally to hold a hearing on the Crestone CDP at the end of the month, Oct. 29-30.
The CDP proposes drilling a 10-square-mile portion of eastern Boulder County with 140 horizontal wells from three large sites. Each of the proposed well sites – two with 56 wells and one with 28 wells – is on either open space land owned by the county – or on privately-owned land over which the county owns conservation easement rights to protect the land. The proposed 56-well pads would be the largest oil and gas facility in the state. Crestone claims the right under state law to use these locations for drilling despite their protected status.
“The CDP is a massive drilling project proposed in the heart of Boulder County farmland, which has been protected through the efforts and tax dollars of our residents,” said Boulder County Commissioner Elise Jones. “We are glad the COGCC is allowing the courts to consider the important legal issues raised by our lawsuit rather than prematurely reviewing the Crestone drilling proposal.”
Crestone had opposed the postponement of the COGCC hearing. However, with today’s decision, the COGCC granted the county’s request noting that “the Lawsuit seeks judicial resolution of several lease and easement issues which are outside the Commission’s jurisdiction, but which could directly affect Crestone’s right to pursue the [CDP].” The order also stated that “the questions before the Boulder County District Court may affect the . . . manner in which Crestone may access the proposed surface locations.”
Crestone proposed the CDP as a preliminary step toward oil and gas development that attempts to plan for a large area. If the CDP were approved by the COGCC, Crestone would need to obtain State drilling permits and then it would still need to seek local approval from Boulder County under the county’s new oil and gas regulations before drilling.
The county has vigorously participated in the CDP process run by the COGCC, providing lengthy comments to each draft of the CDP and contributing at numerous meetings and stakeholder gatherings.
At each step over the 17+ month process, the County has raised numerous concerns, including the proposed use of protected lands, the exceptional size of the proposed facilities, hazards posed by the Lower Boulder Creek floodway, and the foreseeable but unprecedented impacts on residents and the environment.
“We have an obligation to protect the lands and minerals purchased with open space tax dollars,” said Boulder County Commissioner Deb Gardner. “Our lawsuit enforces the rights that Boulder County purchased – or inherited with leases and easements – for the protection of the public’s property.”
The lawsuit asks the court to rule on whether certain oil and gas leases in the CDP area are still valid, whether terms of some leases limit the way Crestone can develop the large area, and whether the leases and conservation easements for the proposed well sites allow the type and size of development proposed.
The county requested that the COGCC postpone its hearing on the CDP until those lease and easement issues are sorted out in court so that efforts will not be duplicated or end in contradictory results.
“This is a sensible decision from the COGCC,” said Kate A. Burke, Senior Assistant Boulder County Attorney. “There is no reason to spend all the time and effort required for a complicated agency hearing when a court case is pending and so many issues identified from the start of the process remain unresolved.”
Crestone’s answer to the Boulder District Court complaint is due Oct. 19.