Stock Markets
Daily Stock Markets News

Fight over fracking near Aurora Reservoir erupts | Aurora

Shortly after moving into her new home near the Aurora Reservoir, Marsha Goldsmith Kamin took a walk with her husband around the neighborhood and saw a sign that said, “Save the Aurora Reservoir.”

“I looked at my husband and I looked out at the reservoir and I said, ‘What’s the matter with it? What are we saving?'” Kamin said. 

Civitas, an oil and gas company, has submitted a proposal to operate 166 wells near the reservoir and several communities. After clearing the technical requirements to move forward, the company is now encountering stiff opposition from Kamin and nearby residents.

The controversy erupted even as policymakers are aggressively seeking to transition the state away from fossil energy. Indeed, while Colorado is one of the country’s top energy producers — in 2022, the state ranked No. 5 in crude oil production and No. 8 in natural gas — there has been a persistent effort to limit the industry’s footprint, a campaign that has intensified in the last several years. 

Proponents of the transition argue it benefits the environment, creates a healthier environment for people and saves Coloradans money, anticipating that, over the long term, renewable energy would be more economical to produce. Critics, meanwhile, say the transition is happening too quickly, that it would be financially costly to people and businesses alike and that a diverse energy portfolio that incudes fossil-fired and renewable energy is more reliable and sustainable.

Against this backdrop, several Aurora residents said they are primarily worried about the proposed wells’ proximity to homes and argued the project poses environmental and health problems.

Civitas countered that the project offers unequivocal benefits to the surrounding areas and to the county. Company officials also promised to adopt a wide array of precautions, including building wells farther away from homes and adding air monitoring and sound barriers to protect residents and ensure the project does not negatively affect the area.

In addition to meeting the requirements to finally get a hearing from the Energy and Carbon Management Commission, the company has assured the Environmental Protection Agency that it would limit its wells to stay clear of a Superfund site.   

Civitas added the project would yield an estimated $235 million in tax revenue for Arapahoe County. 

The land

Oil and gas activities at the Lowry Ranch, the proposed site, can be tracked back to the 1920s, decades after the first oil well broke ground in the state shortly after the middle of the 19th century. 

The Lowry Ranch area used to be a Department of Defense military installation from 1938 to 1964 before its transfer to the Colorado State Land Board.

Civitas — a Colorado-based oil and gas company whose fields can be found across northern and central Colorado, as well as in New Mexico and Texas — holds an oil and gas lease on the majority of the land. It has site-specific stewardship stipulations, which the company said has generated $209 million for public schools.

Seeking to develop the area, Civitas two years ago filed the Lowry Ranch Comprehensive Area Plan, which includes 32,000 acres of proposed subsurface mineral development. The company proposed eight locations with a total of 166 new wells and 14 existing horizontal wells. The development includes drilling about 7,000 feet under the Aurora Reservoir.

After several revisions sought by the Energy and Carbon Management Commission, the state body determined last February that the application is now complete and scheduled for a hearing in July.

The requirements

Arapahoe County requires oil and gas operations to be located 1 mile away from existing and planned reservoirs unless downgradient conditions can be demonstrated and for a “setback” of 3,000 feet from residences. 

A special permission allows for operations to be closer to residences — but no closer than 1,000 feet away, according to those requirements.

Under the proposed development, the closest residence to the drilling sites would be 1,955 feet away; the second closest at 2,705 feet away. The owner and residents of those homes have signed what’s called Informed Consent Letters, which explicitly state their agreement to the well locations, according to the Energy and Carbon Management Commission. 

In a letter to Civitas, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment raised concerns about two locations due to their proximity to residents. And, given that there is a school within 4,801 feet of the Beaver pad, the state agency recommended that the company plan its activities around school year schedules.

The health agency is not objecting to the proposal.

The Environmental Protection Agency is also not objecting to the proposal, though it raised worries…

Read More: Fight over fracking near Aurora Reservoir erupts | Aurora

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Get more stuff like this
in your inbox

Subscribe to our mailing list and get interesting stuff and updates to your email inbox.

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.