Crestone Operator Agreement Remarks

In its entirety, here are the remarks I made at the special Board of Trustees meeting on Sunday, November 4th, 2018 regarding the operator agreement with Crestone Peak Resources.

My first comments are for my peers on the dais. In my opening speech at the Vista Ridge Academy candidate forum in March, I made an analogy about working with oil & gas being like a visit to the doctor. I think it’s worth repeating today. You go to the doctor feeling ill, and after a careful examination, the doctor proclaims, “We need to cut off your arm!” Incredulous, you go home, do your research, consult with experts, and on your next visit to the doctor, show evidence that there may be an alternate treatment. The doctor ponders for a moment and agrees that cutting off your hand will suffice. You go home to your spouse and say, “Great news, the doctor is cutting off my hand!”

I warned you then that because they didn’t have the experience, many of the candidates on that stage would simply be excited about visiting the doctor.  Lo and behold, here we are. The problem is that we haven’t even negotiated to the point where we’re ok with cutting our hand off; the doctor still wants the whole arm.

I want to put today’s decision in context with some of the news headlines I’ve seen in just the last week:

  • On November 2nd, two people tragically lost their lives in an airplane crash just 2,000 ft south of the planned wells at the Acme site.
  • The Front Range continues to struggle with ozone non-attainment. Ozone levels as high as 80 parts per billion are normal. We consistently fail to meet the EPA standards set in 2015, as well as the less-strict standards set in 2008.
  • As of last week, the EPA web site no longer contains references to global warming or climate change.
  • Since 2013, capital expenditures for the top 46 publicly traded U.S. oil companies have exceeded cash from operations. Even with increasing crude oil prices, they are not profitable.
  • Anadarko Petroleum is $14.5 billion dollars in debt. In their third quarter report, they show a free cash flow of negative $589 million dollars.
  • After hitting $70.61 in trading on October 9th, Anadarko Petroleum closed at $53.21 in trading on Friday, a 24.6% loss in valuation over a period of less than 30 days.
  • In the last week, Extraction Oil & Gas has reached an all-time low stock price of $7.31. In June, they were trading at $17; a 57% loss in valuation.
  • To date, oil & gas companies (via Protect Colorado) have spent over $37 million dollars to defeat Proposition 112. Anadarko has contributed $6.9 million dollars. Noble Energy has contributed $6.1 million dollars. Extraction has contibuted $3.4 million dollars. Liberty Oilfield Services has contributed $679,000.

I’ve said it many times; “If you don’t try, you’ve already failed.” It was my manta when I founded the Erie Protectors to give Erie residents a voice when the COGCC had failed us. When I chose to run for Trustee because our town had failed us. When I was one of the first to endorse Proposition 112 because politicians at the state had failed us. When I sat down to negotiate with Crestone last week because those entrusted with the negotiations had failed us.

And when I say us, I mean we, the residents of Erie disproportionately-affected by the practice of residential fracking. Past, present, and future.

I think back to the year while drilling, flowback, and completions occurred 800 feet behind my house at the Pratt and Waste Connections sites, and I wonder how my experience would have been any different under the terms of this proposed operator agreement. Sadly, I can’t point to any changes in this agreement that would have made a real difference in the way odor and noise issues were handled. It would have been business as usual.

For the residents 532 feet from the well heads at Acme, I can say without reservation, this operator agreement will not protect you. It may be the best agreement that the Town has been able to negotiate to date, but it does not protect your health, safety, and welfare, nor does it protect your right to enjoy your own property.

I think about the legacy that I want to leave for the future generations of those living in Erie. I don’t think anybody that voted for the landfill when it first opened intended for thousands of homes to back up to the massive industrial complex we see today. Looking back, I don’t think any of them would be proud of that legacy that we’ll be forced to contend with for another 20 years or more.

I cannot stand with pride knowing what this town has already allowed unconventional oil & gas exploration to do to our Town’s landscape. I can’t even imagine where we might be in 5, 20, or 50 years.

Regardless of the outcome of tonight’s vote, I can, however, stand with pride, and look every one of you in the eye, knowing that I’ve tirelessly fought for the health, safety, and welfare of the residents of Erie, Broomfield, Lafayette, and beyond. As several residents mentioned earlier, we do actually have the power to say no. We have a unique opportunity this evening to use our power for good, to exercise the will of the people. Let’s use it.