Mr Mayor and Members of the Council,
City Council will soon vote on a request by Cougar Land Services for an oil and gas survey on city property for Anadarko Oil.
The survey does not benefit our city. The data will be Anadarko’s private property, and Cougar will pay us only a few dollars per acre for our permission.
Longmont derives absolutely no benefit from the survey unless one believes that it’s beneficial to invite the oil industry further into our entire city for a drilling bonanza.
Oil and Gas well drilling is racing towards Longmont. There will soon be hundreds of wells within the city at Union and at Sandstone. The entire city of Longmont is located within the Wattenberg oil field, the richest of the Niobrara. Perhaps even the richest oil and gas ‘play’ in the United States. And there will be many hundreds of additional wells within our city in the near future.
The Colorado Oil and Gas Commission regulations in the Wattenberg are exceptionally lenient. Since the COGCC refuses to differentiate between municipal urban areas on the one hand and rural agricultural land and oil fields on the other, those lenient Wattenberg rules also apply the within our city.
In its proper place, oil and gas facilities might be acceptable. In an urban environment, there is no net benefit. Each well represents an intensive industrial activity using tens of millions of gallons of poisoned water that require quarantine forever, thousands of tanker truck deliveries, and round-the-clock disruptive drilling and fracking using lights and equipment that requires 40,000 horsepower to operate. For many hundreds of wells, the scale and impact to our city are at least alarming, if not terrifying. The cost to the health, safety and property of our citizens far outweighs any royalties that the city government might receive.
We are looking to City Council to protect our community.
And surely, the City Manager, City Attorney, and their staff must be looking to you for formal, public, guidance so they can responsibly fulfill their assignment to update our regulations. You’ve received and considered the opinions of your advisory boards, but now let us hear your true personal feelings about the place of oil and gas facilities in our lives in our city.
Tonight, proclaim to your constituents, your advisory boards, and to city employees that our city has a guiding Principal:
Proclaim: “Our city government will not promote, encourage, or enable oil and gas development even one inch beyond what is forced upon our community by the COGCC”.
Instruct the City Manager to create regulations that protect our community to the fullest extent possible. Use Longmont’s city boundaries to shield us from the personal, economic and physical damage that oil and gas facilities will cause in an urban setting.
Say “NO” to Cougar. Your vote on Cougar will be your personal stand. If you are averse to having oil and gas facilities within our city limits then say “NO” to Cougar!
A Roadmap for Achieving Responsible Oil and Gas Regulations
- Ensure that the public understands the situation that Longmont faces. In a nutshell: On average, in the Wattenberg, the value of the oil and gas under our homes is close to the value of our property and home on the surface. The Oil and Gas is probably owned by somebody else who feels relatively unconstrained exploiting this wealth using dangerous and disruptive industrial processes in an urban environment. (See map below)
- Establish a guiding principle for creating an administrative and regulatory system to protect our community. The principal should be that our city government will not promote, encourage, or enable oil and gas development even one inch beyond what is forced upon our community by the COGCC.
- Use the document, Oil and Gas Regulations: A Guide for Local Governments, as a fundamental resource. This was created by the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, DOLA. The purpose of this guide is to provide a broad perspective to help municipalities in Colorado come to terms with, and shape the way in which they individually wish to work with the industry to address the concerns of the community.
- Adapt Saguache County’s 2008 regulations to fit our situation and use as our first draft. DOLA provides several case studies as a guide for considering local community issues. DOLA’s first reference is to Saguache County which utilizes Performance Standards and Operational Conflicts Special Exemptions, both of which are noteworthy.
- Strengthen the draft using best practices from Laplatta, Gunnison, Rio Grande, and other counties and cities. (Especially those cited by DOLA) Also use the CU Law School directory of state-wide regulations as a reference guide.
- Update the draft of our regulations to comply with recent COGCC rulings.
- Release the draft for Advisory Board and public review. Be open to new ideas and strategies. Don’t hesitate to incorporate additional reasonable requirements and tactics.
- Use Indemnification and Insurance to protect the property and interests of our citizens. Use fees. Monitoring, Inspection and Enforcement costs. Indemnification for lost property values. Insurance against damage, disasters, negligence, environmental clean up, infrastructure build-out and degradation, emergency response, and end-of-life site restoration.
- Establish an Oil and Gas Department Just as we currently have a Building Department we will need a Gas and Oil Department to administrate and enforce our regulations and to protect the safety of the public. This is a multi-billion dollar enterprise just within our city. The department manager should be intimately knowledgeable about the Colorado Gas and Oil Industry and will be our official ‘Designee” to the COGCC. Give this department the mission of working to re-establish our community’s home rule rights regarding oil and gas facilities.
- Do not sell or lease mineral or water rights for the purpose of drilling, fracking, or production of oil and gas within our city.
- Place all revenue from pre-existing contracts into a municipal fund to be managed by the new Oil and Gas Department. Use the fund to mitigate the losses and damage that can be expected in our community from drilling and fracking.
Submitted by Joseph Bassman, 3414 Lakeview Circle, Longmont CO Jan 3, 2012
The Wattenberg Field
Oil and Gas Wells are Surrounding and Invading the Cities of the Wattenberg Field.
January 3, 2012