Broomfield leaders approve new wells, voters to decide on fracking in Nov.

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

BROOMFIELD, Colo. -- Broomfield voters have their say in November whether to ban fracking from their community for the next five years.

But it could have no impact on a city council decision Tuesday approving 21 new wells.

Those wells are located on four sites:
1) Memorial south of State Highway 7 and west of I-25
2) Brozovich at 160th Ave., west of Sheridan
3) Nordstrom 2-4
4) Nordstrom 5-4 ... both north of W. 160th Ave., east of Sheridan Pkwy.

Nordstrom 2-4 is less than half a mile from Prospect Ridge Academy charter school and an Anthem neighborhood.

“I just want to know what they are doing is safe for us, before they proceed,” says mother of three, Meghan Mariner.

She is part of a grassroots group that collected signatures to put to a vote in November a 5-year moratorium on fracking.

She worries about the controversial method to extract oil and natural gas because one drilling site is close to her home and children’s school.

“You work hard to make sure the community you live in is safe and it’s almost like a slap,” she says about council’s unanimous decision to move forward with the 21 new wells in four locations. The area will actually see 31 wells on 10 sites because of previous council approval in February.

Broomfield’s Mayor Pat Quinn says legally they had no grounds to say no to Sovereign Energy—especially since it agreed to the strictest regulations in Colorado.

“The concerns of air quality, water quality, you know, the location of the rigs. In each one of those cases, we have a standard greater than what Colorado requires. So we couldn’t deny the application,” he says.

Those restrictions include: no drilling within 1,000 feet of existing buildings—double the state distance.

Also, it must pay to test the quality of the air and soil at its sites.

And, it must capture three percent more pollutants than the state requires.

“They (Sovereign Energy) are required to make sure 98 percent doesn’t make it into the atmosphere, which is big. If you compare it to what the EPA requires, we exceed state and federal government,” says Quinn.

“I feel like they could have waited 10 weeks,” says Mariner.

She can’t help but feel a public vote in November might have completely shut down potential safety problems from a drilling method some say is still unclear.

“It’s disappointing.  If we drill now and all of a sudden, ‘Oh no, this well leaked and all these chemicals went into the air and our children were exposed.’ That’s really scary,” says Mariner.

If voters say no to fracking in November, both sides agree, the future of the newly-approved sites is unclear and it could all end up in court.