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November 2, 2020

Oil & gas drilling plans halted on contested Boulder County conservation easement


Boulder County obtains commitment from Extraction preventing drilling on conservation easement property while court cases proceed


(Boulder County, Colo.) -- Over the weekend, Boulder County, Extraction Oil & Gas, Inc., and the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission agreed to a process that will protect the county’s conservation easement property in Weld County from Extraction’s plans to drill wells in mid-November while the county’s lawsuits against Extraction proceed in the Colorado Court of Appeals.

Extraction will ask the COGCC to extend the expiration date of its state-approved drilling permits until after the county’s two cases against Extraction have concluded. The January 2021 expiration of those permits was the primary driver for Extraction’s plans to start work later this month. Boulder County filed an emergency motion on October 28, 2020 in Extraction’s bankruptcy case to stop those plans.

“Chances of success when fighting emergency motions in court are always uncertain, and even more so when there are two courts involved as there would be here,” said Senior Assistant County Attorney Kate Burke. “With this agreement, Extraction’s motion to COGCC to extend the timing of their permit approvals will be unopposed, which eliminates much of that uncertainty.”

Under the agreement, once the extension of the permits from COGCC is in place, Extraction will shelve its construction plans until after all the litigation is fully concluded. At that point, Extraction’s ability to drill on the site will depend largely on the outcome of the lawsuits. For its part, the county will withdraw its emergency motion with the Delaware bankruptcy court. The bankruptcy will then proceed and, after its conclusion, the lawsuits can move forward.

“It is important that the county have its day in court defending our conservation easement,” said Commissioner Matt Jones, “and not have an oil company go ahead and drill using the excuse that they are in bankruptcy court to get around our lawsuit.”

“This pause on construction activities is a great thing for the prime farmland, wildlife and other ecological resources on the Pleasant View property, and for eastern Boulder County residents,” said Commissioner Deb Gardner.

“We opened two doors with our court filing and request to COGCC last week,” said Commissioner Elise Jones. “Working with COGCC has proven to be the fastest and most certain route. If we have to go back to court later, we can.”

View of Pleasant View Farms agricultural land in Weld Co. protected by a Boulder County conservation easement

View of Pleasant View Farms agricultural land in Weld Co. protected by a Boulder County conservation easement

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