Boulder County loses battle to stop wells near county line

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BOULDER, Colo. -- Another busy day at the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.

On Tuesday, commissioners heard debate regarding a spacing application for wells in Weld County and Erie -- near the Boulder County line.

A subsidiary of Extraction Energy, 8 North, is proposing 32 new wells in Weld County and 20 wells in Erie.

The locations, however, are so close to the Boulder County line that underground drilling could extend into the county.

Boulder County leaders attempted to sway commissioners by suggesting 8 North lacks proper ownership of the land (near Baseline and County Line Road) as well as suggesting the area in question is a Boulder County Conservation area.

“We have ongoing concerns with all these issues and proceedings have to do with health, safety and welfare impacts on people and residences,” said Kate Burke, assistant Boulder County attorney.

Parents of Pioneer Bilingual Elementary School came to the hearing -- upset the proposed site will be near their children’s school.

“It is also pretty close to my kids' school which is problematic; they’ll never be able to get away from the noise and the smell,” Kate Christensen said.

“Granted, it is in Weld County where they want to drill but very close to the county line. Methane doesn’t know any boundaries,” Christensen said.

Attorneys for 8 North spent much of the afternoon showing how far their operations would be from sensitive areas -- including more than 8,300 feet from Pioneer Elementary School.

Lawyers also spent time convincing commissioners they have control of the land.

In the end, commissioners advanced the spacing application -- siding with 8 North -- by allowing the process for eventual drilling to go forward.

Specific drilling permits are expected to be addressed at a later date.

The decision to drill in and around Boulder County represents a drastic change. In recent years, a moratorium was in place banning oil and gas operations, but that moratorium has since expired.

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