Broomfield passes emergency noise ordinance to prohibit overnight oil and gas operations

Extraction Oil and Gas well site in Broomfield

BROOMFIELD, Colo. — Oil and gas operators will be effectively prohibited from outdoor operations overnight under an emergency noise ordinance the Broomfield City Council passed on Tuesday night.

The ordinance passed unanimously and had the support of Mayor Patrick Quinn. It will prohibit industrial operations from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. unless they’re happening in a fully enclosed building or if operators can prove the work will not exceed certain decibel levels.

If businesses wanted to operate during those hours, they would have to prove that they would not exceed the noise limits.

The noise limits will be 40 dBA, or equivalent to the nighttime noise limit for residential districts, or 65 dBC, which is the Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission limit for sea-level noise.

The council could grant exceptions in certain circumstances, including those involving safety concerns or if the company can prove an alternative way to meet the noise standards.

Broomfield officials said that since Nov. 20, they have received 360 complaints related to oil and gas operations, and most of them were noise-related.

Officials said most of the complaints are clustered in neighborhoods by the Extraction Oil and Gas-operated Livingston Well site, like Anthem Highlands, Anthem Ranch and Wildgrass. Most came in between 8 p.m. and 4 a.m.

Dozens of residents expressed symptoms like trouble sleeping and anxiety because of the noise.

Representatives from Extraction opposed the measure at Tuesday’s meeting. They alleged their sound levels are in compliance and claimed residents heard ambient traffic noise and not noise from their well operations.

Representatives with the American Petroleum Institute and the Colorado Oil and Gas Association also urged the council to oppose the ordinance.

November’s election brought a majority of oil and gas opponents onto the council. The council voted last month to extend a drilling moratorium through June 4.

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