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Kerr-McGee offers concession in proposal to drill within 2,000 feet of homes in Firestone

COGCC postponed approval until March 10
Firestone homes
Posted at 5:07 PM, Feb 17, 2022

FIRESTONE, Colo. — A few years ago, Bill McGehee and his family knew they found the perfect home in Firestone.

“This particular lot we looked at, there was nothing here when we started looking, and, of course, we love the view of the mountains and the golf course,” he said.

But last year, he received a letter from their HOA letting them know of a proposal by Kerr-McGee to bring in oil and gas wells near their neighborhood.

“I was really quite surprised that they were going to put in such a big facility so close to the houses and all the golf courses,” said McGehee.

During a Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission meeting Wednesday night, it was decided to postpone approval of the proposal until March 10, giving the company time to revise its plan and add more safeguards as well as review alternative locations.

“I have no really objection to oil and gas drilling," said McGehee. "I think it's important to harvest those resources, and we need them and all great, but my point all along has been it doesn't belong right there in the middle of this big residential area."

In a statement, a spokesperson with Occidental Petroleum, parent company of Kerr-McGee, said in part, “Oxy is committed to protecting the community's safety and our workers. Our mitigation practices meet or exceed Colorado and Firestone regulatory requirements for noise, odor, light, traffic, and air quality monitoring.”

“At some point, Colorado Oil and Gas Commission is going to have to decide if they're going to respect SB-181 or not,” said Kate Christensen, an oil and gas campaign coordinator for 350 Colorado.

SB-181 is a 2019 law that created a 2,000 foot buffer between homes and oil and gas drilling. The latest proposal would be shorter than that distance from some homes but could be granted if certain protections are in place.

“Proximity to homes is the biggest issue," said Christensen. "There are a number of residential units very, very close to this pad where people have health concerns and young children live, and we know that not only the noise and the odors, but also the benzene released from these wells impacts public health."

During the meeting, Kerr-McGee did agree to use an electric rig and to pipe waste-water off site. Still, it serves as little consolation to some neighbors.

“I think Kerr-McGee has done a lot of work and trying to make this a project as safe and mitigate things as best they can, but in the end, no amount of mitigation is going to matter," said McGehee. "But in the end, I don't want it there."

A debate a year in the making could possibly see a resolution in three weeks.