Crestone Peak Resources formulating plans for 216 wells in eastern Boulder County

Residents express concerns about long-term health
Posted at 11:43 PM, Aug 11, 2017

ERIE, Colo. -- Now that Boulder County's five year moratorium on oil and gas drilling has expired, Crestone Peak Resources, the 5th largest producer of oil and natural gas in the Denver-Julesburg Basin, is formulating plans to drill 216 wells in a 12 square mile section of the county, near Erie.

The announcement is raising concerns among residents who live in the area.

Gene Olson, a resident of the Kenosha Farm subdivision, says it's what the oil company won't say that has him worried.

"They're injecting this magical goo into the ground that we don't know what this is," Olson said, referring to the fracking fluid. "They won't tell us what it is.  It's kind of secret and I can't believe it's any good for our water supply."

Olson says he understands the need for energy, but he believes there should be more focus on solar and wind power, and less on fossil fuels.

"I have mixed feelings about it," he said, "because I just think, gosh, we're surrounded by gas wells and how many more are they going to poke into the ground around us, and what's it going to do to our health."

His neighbor up the street, Sharlene Hodge, has the same concerns.

"Safe neighborhoods are very important to me," Hodge said. "It's important to know what chemicals are going into the ground."

Another neighbor, Traci Hughes, told Denver7 it's a complex issue.

"There's a lot of information that I'm not privy to," she said, "and that is what concerns me when it comes to drilling."

She too would like to know more about the fracking fluid.

"If they don't divulge that information to a trustworthy source, if not the public, how can we say, 'yes, it's safe, go ahead and do it in our neighborhood, around our farms and our families.'"

Other concerns

There are other concerns.

Hughes said a nearby drilling operation, across County Line Road in Weld County, is affecting their quality of life.

"As much as they try to hide it with a green wall, it's an eyesore," she said, "and when we have our windows wide open at night, we hear loud humming and pumping at 2 o'clock in the morning, or at midnight."

Preliminary plans

Crestone Peak's Director of External Affairs, Jason Oates, told Denver7 that they sent a drilling application to the state in March.

"We're proposing two mile-long horizontal wells to minimize surface disturbance," he said. "We're going through the environmental assessments now."

Oates said they're trying to decide where to place the wells, taking into account wildlife, and a desire to place the greatest distance between wells and residents.

"We're looking at six or seven well pads," he said. "Some pads will have upward of 30 wells."

When asked about the safety concerns expressed by residents, Oates said, "I feel very confident in the specifications that our state mandates we use to construct wells."

He said there is a lot of visionary science that goes into making sure that what they do "is contained and does not contact... ground water."

Oates also said the state regulates the process.

"You have to trust that there are people looking out for the health, safety and welfare and that's our regulatory bodies," he said.

"I'm leary," Olson replied. "I don't know  if I trust them... I just worry what's going to happen, not in my lifetime because I'm getting up in age, but kids and grandkids, you know.  What's going to happen to them?  Is the air going to be clear to breathe?  Is the water going to be safe to drink? It's just kind of unknown."

Commissioners expect robust debate

Denver7 reached out to the Boulder County Commissioners for comment about Crestone Peak's plans.

They indicated that it's too early to comment.

In an emailed statement, they noted that according to the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, Crestone must submit Conceptual and Preliminary CDP (Comprehensive Drilling Plan) elements by Sept. 29, "so we may see actual proposed locations soon and public comment periods will then open up."

The commissioners have told constituents that they have advocated for a robust public input process.

"It's uncertain when Crestone may file its application with the county, but when that happens, there will be an extremely thorough local review, regardless of what actions the state has taken."