Oil and gas and Boulder don't mix.
A long-term Fracking project in eastern Boulder County is in the early planning stages. Crestone Peak Resources has a Comprehensive Drilling Plan application in front of state regulators.
As part of that CDP, Crestone agreed to hold two public meetings in Boulder County. One, at the Vinelife Church in Longmont on Oct. 18, the other on a conference call the next day.
State Rep. Mike Foote, D-Lafayette, posted a video to YouTube, shot by State Sen. Matt Jones, D-Louisville, of them being denied entry into last week's public meeting.
"It's a public meeting, I don't understand why the public can't attend," Foote said in the video.
Next with Kyle Clark asked Jones why he started recording video.
"Well, it's a public meeting. Everyone should be in," said Jones. "If Crestone Resources can't even hold a public meeting, how do we trust them with explosive materials?"
Crestone had sent tickets to residents it identified as being within a half-mile radius of six proposed oil and gas locations, within a 12-square mile area in eastern Boulder County that the operations could take place within.
"We are right here on Niwot road, this is County Line," said Boulder County resident Nanner Fisher, as she showed Next how her home falls outside of the half-mile radius of any of the six proposed locations. "I'm surrounded by five of these proposed locations."
Fisher drove to the "public" meeting last week, and said a private security guard explicitly let her know that she was not welcomed to attend.
"When I said my name, they said, 'Nanner Fisher, you know you're not supposed to be here.' I live in the CDP. I live in the 12 square miles and I was going to be arrested and escorted out."
Since nothing has been approved, it's possible the proposed locations could move from where they're mapped within the 12 square miles, closer to other homeowners.
"My definition of public meeting is public, that would mean everybody. It's not private. It's not invite only. It's public. Anybody in the state Anybody from anywhere should be allowed to attend," said Fisher.
In an October 10 letter to the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, the Boulder County Attorney's office listed four reasons it was concerned with the meeting before it even happened.
• Concern that it has pre-selected oil and gas locations without county or public input
• Timing of the two meetings
• Limiting attendance to half-mile radius and not including all 12 square miles and even one mile outside of that
• Boulder County, as a landowner, did not receive an invitation to the meetings
"Not only are we neighboring landowners, we're actually 'the' landowners under four of their sites, and they neglected to invite us the first time around," said Boulder County Assistant Attorney Kate Burke. "Having selected sites and the using those selected sites to limit the people who are allowed to participate, suggests that Crestone considers them carved in stone at the very outset."
In a response to Boulder County, Crestone's attorney answered each concern.
- "Your assumption that Crestone 'pre-selected its CDP oil and gas locations' is inaccurate and seems to be an attempt to discredit Crestone prior to the public engagement portion of the CDP process."
- Public meetings scheduled for Oct. 18 and 19 were to allow adequate time to digest the information before the preliminary CDP is due
- "Your assumption that Crestone did not notice landowners outside of the CDP area is inaccurate"
- Crestone also said it did notify Boulder County about the meetings, and attached a signed postal delivery card as proof.
"Having these public meetings at this point of the process is new. Usually it happens later in the process as we have more of the details," said Crestone Peak Resources Director of External Affairs Jason Oates. "What didn't get videoed was the protests going on up the street, and that's what we were trying to make sure -- we didn't have a disruption."
Crestone said it limited attendance to the public meetings, so that direct stakeholders could get information and not get overrun by people against the idea of oil and gas drilling who are not from the impacted area.
"We recognize that there were the expectations of some in the public that the meeting was broader than that, and we certainly take responsibility for that as far as calling it a 'public meeting.' It was a public meeting for affected public," said Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission spokesman Todd Hartman.
Crestone is going to hold a third meeting, another telephone conference call on Nov. 2, for all residents within the 12-square mile proposed drilling area.