Policy: Crestone Boulder County CDP

Crestone’s Boulder County CDP Zone 2 is just off Hwy 52 and 115th St.

As a part of the third draft of Crestone Peak Resources’ Comprehensive Drilling Plan (CDP) for Boulder County, the operator has prepared a Question and Answer Summary (PDF).

While much of the Town of Erie does not directly fall in the area of the CDP, many Erie residents call Boulder County home. I’d hoped that Crestone would have learned from their mistakes at the Pratt and Waste Connections sites in Vista Ridge, but that does not appear to be the case.

Read on for my responses.

Floodplains: Zone 1 is in a floodplain. Crestone says they’ll mitigate the risks by “ensuring equipment is inventoried and properly anchored.” Anyone that experienced the flooding in September 2013 knows what a raging torrent of water came through Boulder Creek and how the floodplain was underwater for many weeks. The risks to the environment are simply too great to put 56 wells at this location.

Mineral Rights: Crestone says, “Under Colorado law, mineral rights owners have the right to “reasonable access” on the surface in order to develop underlying minerals.” While this may be true, the legal rights of Boulder County residents must be considered. They’ve spent $74MM to acquire open space in Boulder County over the years to provide “public uses that reflect sound resource management and community values.” Allowing oil & gas development on this open space is a violation of that contract.

Pad Size: Crestone says they’re “able to draw from experience in DJ Basin operations and scale the number of wells as needed.” I presume Crestone is talking about Facility 434554: HWY 52 /32H-O268 which has 23 wells. The smallest pad in the CDP (28 wells) would be 21% larger. The largest pad (56 wells) would be more than twice as large. We’ve never seen such a large-scale industrial operation in our communities for such a protracted timeframe; the CDP would take 5 years to complete.

Traffic Management/Pipelines: Crestone has touted the use of pipelines to reduce the amount of truck traffic to these megapads, but we’re only trading one evil for another. The risk of pipeline leaks, fires, and explosions are tantamount to asking someone, “would you rather be slapped on the left cheek or the right?” Regardless, the endless stream of trucks carrying drilling additives, proppants, and pipe will inundate the Hwy 52 corridor for 5 years.

Odor Mitigation/ Drilling Mud: Crestone is “looking at products similar to what we’ve used at other DJ Basin operations.” After hundreds of odor complaints were logged with the COGCC for Crestone’s use of Gibson D822 drilling mud at the Pratt and Waste Connections sites, the operator spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on “odor-masking products” to no avail. State regulations do not protect the rights of residents to enjoy their own properties; local ordinances are challenged or mocked. Without empirical measurement techniques and ordinances regarding odor nuisances, we residents will continue to suffer.

Fresh Water: Crestone says the “amount of fresh water used in our operations will be dependent on the final approved plan.” We already know the answer; for the wells that Crestone drilled at Pratt, Waste Connections, and Woolley Becky Sosa, the median water use per well was 11,075,030 gallons. So for the 140 wells in the CDP, let’s use an estimate of 1,550,504,200 gallons. That’s over 1.5 billion gallons of permanently-polluted water.

Existing Wells: As they develop the CDP, Crestone will render obsolete the existing 95 vertical wells in the area, requiring them to be plugged & abandoned. Sadly, we’ve already seen the care with which Crestone operates these P&A operations. They’ll require another increase in traffic, VOC emissions, and more during the CDP lifespan.

Property Values: Crestone says “energy production will have little or no impact on property values once drilling and completions are finished.” In other words, don’t plan on selling your home until 2025.

In-Person Meetings: Crestone believes “the telephone town hall meeting is the most efficient and convenient means of connecting” with residents. As a participant in several of these meetings, I’ve seen first-hand how the moderators have used this restricted forum to control the conversation, belittle the outrage of residents, and hide behind poor call quality instead of listening to legitimate concerns about this heavy industrial activity.

Questions or comments? Send them along!