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Broomfield rejects proposal to amend Extraction Oil & Gas agreement

Proposal would have reduced wells, added production deadline
A stock image of an oil and gas operation at sunset.

Broomfield City Council unanimously rejected a proposal to amend its operating agreement with Extraction Oil & Gas on Tuesday night, with city staff and Broomfield residents speaking about distrust that remains between the community and the oil and gas operator. 

The proposal was the result of months of negotiations between city staff and Civitas Resources, the new parent company formed in a merger between Extraction Oil & Gas and Bonanza Creek Energy. 

If approved, the agreement would have required Extraction to reduce the number of wells it will drill from 84 to 65, to start production on those wells by the end of 2022, to plug and abandon wells not drilled by the end of 2022, to not perform operations between 7 p.m.-7 a.m., to not use a drilling rig or frac spread — with some exceptions — after 2022, and to dismiss without prejudice its federal and state lawsuits against Broomfield. 

Broomfield would agree “to not enact future regulations passed solely in response to or targeting Extraction’s oil and gas operations,” according to the staff memo to council, such as additional noise ordinances.

Broomfield’s primary goal in reopening the 2017 operating agreement was to reduce the number of wells and to put a firm deadline on those wells getting into production, City Manager Jennifer Hoffman told Council members. 

Hoffman spoke several times about the mistrust between Broomfield and Extraction and how that carried over to the newly-formed Civitas. Broomfield residents living near the wells have filed noise complaints and, during public comment Tuesday, talked about health impacts like chronic bloody noses, migraines and respiratory problems. 

“We are not pitching the community or Council nor are we selling, whether it be this agreement or any agreement in the future,” Hoffman told Council members. “We are putting together a package that we think to be better than the status quo. We will, as staff always does, rally behind this community and this council with whatever decision is made and for the outcome to be as successful as possible as we move forward.” 

Eight community members spoke about the proposed resolution, with seven speaking in opposition and one person asking questions of staff members.

Broomfield resident Mackenzie Carignan told Council members she did not trust that Civitas would not behave as Extraction had in the past and raised concerns about Broomfield agreeing not to enact future regulations targeting oil and gas operations.

“To take this power away from Broomfield when there is so much we don’t know is harmful and unnecessary,” Carignan said. 

The staff presentation, public comment and Council discussion lasted for approximately two hours, with Council members inquiring about their ability to legislate, the exceptions in the agreement and the possibility of tabling it for the future.

At several points, Hoffman and City and County Attorney Nancy Rodgers acknowledged the potential loopholes and ambiguities in the proposal. 

Council member James Marsh-Holschen asked Hoffman if Civitas would be open to renegotiating any of the terms, to which Hoffman responded “absolutely, unequivocally no.” 

In an email, Civitas Resources spokesperson Steven Emmen said the company invested significant time and energy with Broomfield staff on the proposed agreement in recent months. 

“We believe the agreement would have helped the parties engage in healthier cooperation, and that certain elements of the agreement are extremely valuable to the city. We’re disappointed that it didn’t pass, but we will remain engaged with staff as we move forward,” Emmen wrote.