CSU student, oil company reach agreement on civil lawsuit filed following protest

Posted at 7:06 PM, Jun 20, 2018

GREELEY, Colo. -- A CSU student, who locked himself to a bulldozer to protest a controversial oil and gas site in Greeley, has agreed to never trespass on Extraction's property again as a part of an agreement to drop a civil lawsuit the oil company filed against him.

"We are pleased that the court entered a stipulated permanent injunction," Extraction spokesman Brian Cain said in a statement. "The stipulated permanent injunction ordered by the judge today requires that individual to refrain from coming onto any and all Extraction property or sites in the state of Colorado going forward."

Police arrested Cullen Lobe, 23, back in March and charged him with trespassing when he refused to leave Extraction's controversial drilling site located near Bella Romero Elementary School in Greeley.

"After those kids come up to you and tell you they're scared for their lives. My heart was telling me, 'you have to do something,'" said Lobe.

Lobe said he had been involved in previous protests at the site, but felt their actions were falling on deaf ears which is why he locked himself to their construction equipment.

"Every other method wasn't necessarily working," he said. "I was out there strictly to protect the children at Bella Romero."

Lobe said he expected there would consequences for his actions, but he didn't think Extraction would sue him over the protest. An action which required him to right both a civil and criminal case.

"I did not think in a million years that I'd be sued by an oil company," he said.

"Incredibly unusual move that I hope doesn't become the standard for the multi-billion-dollar oil and gas industry in Colorado," said Lobe's attorney, Jason Flores-Williams.

Extraction has called the protestors "extremists" whose actions cannot be tolerated.

"We applaud all parties in this matter for their commitment to respecting the rule of law and the rights of all property owners," Extraction's spokesman, Brian Cain, said in a statement.

Extraction also said it has recently announced plans to conduct "80 percent of all drilling and completion operations outside of school hours," at the site in Greeley.

Lobe's attorney said he believes the suit was about finding out if anyone else was involved and being used as a bullying tactic.

"What they wanted in that process was to have the activists, I don't really call them activists - just concerned citizens, turn over all of their cell phone records. In other words, it's back to naming names," said Flores-Williams.

Lobe's attorney said they didn't give the phone records, but did agree to stay off Extraction's property.

"Shortly after his arrest, we received a threatening call to our office and wanted to ensure that communication had nothing to do with Mr. Lobe. We determined to go ahead and settle the matter without obtaining those records," Extraction's spokesman said. 

"I think Extraction saw that this is a battle they couldn't win because the longer we were in court, the more of a platform this was going to be," he said.

Lobe said he thinks the lawsuit was meant to scare him and other protestors into silence.

"It's not working at all. I think them doing this just fires more people up," he said. "I don't regret anything at all. I felt like at that point it was what my heart was telling me to do."

Lobe's attorney said they have reached an agreement on the criminal trespassing charges, but will go back to court for that in August.

Extraction is not breaking any rules with the location of its drilling operation near Bella Romero Elementary. Under current state law, new wells must be 1,000 feet from a school building, which Extraction follows.

However, the law does not consider how close the wells are located to playgrounds or soccer fields, which in this case are much closer to the drill rig than the school building.