Plans are being prepared by city staff and others to allow drilling for gas and oil on Longmont properties. The mineral rights involved are substantially owned by others with Longmont owning only surface land, although the city itself does own some mineral rights.
TOP Operating, a drilling firm, has already held a neighborhood meeting in conjunction with the city for those in the vicinity of Union Reservoir, Sandstone Ranch and the Sherwood property at County Road 20-1/2. The company’s representative, Dale Bruns (of the LifeBridge/West Union development infamy) also appeared at the October Water Board meeting and Bruns and the owners of TOP Operating appeared at the Board of Environmental Affairs October meeting.
Cougar Land Services, a seismic survey firm that has requested a permit to conduct surveys on Longmont property, is expected to appear before the two boards in November. The purpose of the seismic surveys is to locate additional oil and gas under Longmont properties.
The TOP Operating plan is to access 80 to 100 wells through five drilling pads located on the Bogott and Adrian water and open space properties west of Union Reservoir that are owned by Longmont, at Sandstone Ranch, on the Sherwood open space property and one additional site. These plans include directional drilling and hydraulic fracturing (fracking).
Drilling preparations could begin in as little as two to three months.
Mineral rights issues are complex. Those of you who have seen “Gasland” and/or “Split Estates” will understand that there can be surface land rights and mineral rights for the same piece of property. Most landowners only own surface rights. Federal and Colorado law actually permits owners of mineral rights to locate on surface-owned lands of others to drill for the oil and gas (mineral rights) that they own. In most cases, property owners have acquiesced and leased to them — in some cases for revenue, in some cases for some control over location and/or the number of drills. If these companies so choose, the can erect a vertical drill for every well. Outrageous, but true!
While there can be many wells of oil and gas near each other, today’s technology allows for drilling directionally or horizontally to access several of these wells through single drilling sites. Fracking now makes many of these sources economical for the oil and gas industry. Fracking uses a combination of water, sand and a chemical cocktail to break apart shale rock and release trapped oil and gas. Fracking is a serious threat to water supplies regardless of industry propaganda to the contrary. There are also other environmental hazards with fracking.
About three weeks ago, Longmont voters received a telephone poll conducted by American Tradition Partnership (ATP), formerly known as Western Tradition Partnership (WTP). Among their many questions was, and I paraphrase, “Would you be OK with oil and gas drilling on Longmont’s open space?”
American Tradition Partnership is rabidly anti-environmental. They are funded by the oil, gas and coal industries. Even more significant, the organization is amongst the nation’s best liars who have never had a relationship with shame, and likely never will.
ATP/WTP fully funded Longmont Leadership Committee in the 2009 Longmont election that conducted the ugliest political campaign in Longmont’s recent memories. That election ushered in a majority on city council that espouses a radical ideology. In this year’s election, American Tradition Partnership has openly endorsed Bryan Baum and Health Carroll and opposed Sarah Levison and Sean McCoy in Longmont’s upcoming election.
Mayor Baum raised the issue of Longmont’s mineral rights at the 2010 council retreat. The subject was not openly resurrected after that time and most of us who are concerned about potential drilling wrongly assumed that the subject was going nowhere. It is my belief that American Tradition Partnership has acted with the mayor and his block on council since the 2009 election, if not before. The dots connect. In essence ATP/WTP is receiving payback for the support provided to elect Baum, Santos, Witt and Sammoury.
This latest turn of events is appalling and our options are limited. We are losing control of our city and our environment. Let your voice be heard in whatever forum you have available or feel comfortable in using.