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Commerce City considers proposal to install 160 wells on fracking sites

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. — Battle lines are being drawn again in Colorado over fracking. Extraction Oil & Gas is proposing expansion into Commerce City amid criticism from protestors concerned about the environment, health and safety.

Protestors gathered in the lobby of Commerce City’s city hall Monday as city decision makers headed to a closed-door executive session meeting concerning fracking.

“I don’t think you can put a price on the safety of our neighborhood,” resident Sean Cuevo said.

Commerce City says Extraction Oil & Gas— a company well known in Broomfield— has proposed 160 wells on 6 pads across the northern suburb. Fears of soil and water contamination, fires and cancer have residents insisting their city council members find a way to say “no” to the development. But legally, it’s not so easy, officials warn.

“When we’ve seen people get to know the data and understand the facts [surrounding oil and natural gas extraction], people walk away a lot less concerned,” said Nick Kliebenstein of Front Range Energy Alliance.

The city says it is still weeks away from any potential operating agreement. Council members are, for now, gaining legal advice from city attorneys. The city is attempting to create a focus group for resident feedback and is determining a negotiation strategy on fracking.

“There is always room for that public comment period as this process continues to move forward,” said city spokeswoman Jodi Hardee.

Organizations advocating for responsible energy development argue stopping development all together is the wrong way to go. Instead, finding a compromise of what works best is the answer. But, Commerce City residents like Cuevo say wells simply don’t belong within city boundaries.

“I love the open spaces [in Commerce City],” said Cuevo. “I love being able to see the mountains from my house.”

The city says, if an agreement does move forward, there will be a 21-day public comment period.

Extraction Oil & Gas released the following statement Monday:

“At issue before council tonight is the decision whether to create a focus group for residents to provide feedback on oil and gas development in Commerce City and in particular, on our proposed development that is designed to be one of the best in the country. We welcome the opportunity for transparency and for residents to provide feedback.

In addition to providing some of the best management practices available in the United States through this project, it is also worth noting that the average well pad setback from any occupied structure associated with this project is around 2,500 feet.

Our company has a demonstrated track record of working with communities and stakeholders to ensure that the energy resources we all use each day are developed in a way that is both safe and responsible.” — Brian Cain, Extraction Oil & Gas spokesman

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