A slew of residents poured into Lafayette’s City Council chambers on Tuesday night to demand a call to arms against future drilling operations — a week after a company announced plans to drill in the heart of the “fractivist” enclave.
Boulder County commissioners announced last week that the county had learned that 8 North LLC, a subsidiary of Extraction Oil and Gas LLC, had applied to the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission for a “drilling and spacing order.”
It’s the first step in a process that could lead to the company applying for a permit to drill in the 2,720-acre area between Quail and Oxford roads.
More urgently for Lafayette residents, the oil and gas company also applied for a state drilling and spacing order for a 1,280-acre area between Arapahoe and Baseline roads in the Lafayette-Erie area.
In Lafayette, a city that took up the anti-oil and gas mantle earlier this year in the form of the Climate Bill of Rights and Protections — the measure, which called for the sanctioning of civil disobedience and direct-action protest, was gutted in the last hour — residents have found themselves returning to a fight now in their backyards.
“Last week,” Lafayette resident Emily Love told council, “I opened that map — they drew a circle around my house and the school that my kids go to. I realized very quickly that I’ve been on the sidelines too long, but I don’t have a choice anymore whether I engage in this conversation about fracking in my community.
“This is the definition of your political career in these next few moments.”
In the months since a fatal Firestone house explosion, change at the level of government has left only frustration, fracking opponents say.
Such defeats have left a bad taste in the mouths of fractivists, whose frustration has led them to rage against not only the industry, but city leaders themselves.
“Get over the idea that this body is going to help us,” Cliff Willmeng, a member of an anti-oil and gas group East Boulder County United, said of Lafayette’s City Council on Tuesday.
“Never once have they helped us. All this body has done is drag its feet.
“Christine,” he added toward Mayor Christine Berg, “you have told people that drilling won’t come to Lafayette; I hope you own that.”
County officials noted that 8 North’s applications are the first step in the state process of reviewing and granting permission for oil and gas development. If the state approves the drilling and spacing orders, 8 North would still have to apply for permits to drill — applications that would include specific plans and proposed locations.
Lafayette is no stranger to lofty oil and gas regulations. The city may soon require oil and gas operators to map their pipelines throughout the cities, officials say, signaling the potential for heightened local control months after similar legislation fell along party lines at the state Capitol.
Its neighbor next door, Erie, approved such an ordinance last week.
Last week’s announcement was not the first plan to be signaled for drilling in Boulder County. Earlier this year, Crestone Peak Resources applied to the COGCC with a proposal to drill on roughly 12 square miles of county land.
The Denver-based company is proposing up to 216 wells near U.S. 287 and Colo. 52 between Longmont and Lafayette.
“We may not have the same damn path,” Berg said of the criticism Tuesday, “but we can go in the same direction. These are decades of laws that have failed us; we can push it as far as we can.
“It’s important for us to keep our eye on the prize. The oil and gas industry is the enemy. Not a single person in this room wants what Erie has going on. There are 20,000 wells in Weld County. The long-term goal is that we have to keep fighting; the short term is, let’s fight together.”
(c)2017 the Daily Camera (Boulder, Colo.)
Visit the Daily Camera (Boulder, Colo.) at www.dailycamera.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
This content is published through a licensing agreement with Acquire Media using its NewsEdge technology.