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Oil & Gas

The city is fully committed to protecting the interests of its citizens, its water supplies and open spaces.

The city has retained a special oil and gas legal counsel, Phillip D. Barber, P.C., for work related to oil and gas matters on an as-needed basis. Barber has extensive experience in oil and gas matters and brings Westminster needed support to evaluate oil and gas matters impacting the city.

The city’s decision to retain Barber comes after the city in late October 2018 learned that energy company Highlands Natural Resources Corp. had applied with the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) for permits to drill under Standley Lake and the Westminster Hills Dog Park/Open Space. These applications have since been withdrawn.

This page will be updated as we receive more information.

FAQ regarding the permits submitted in October 2018:

When did the city learn about permit applications for Standley Lake and the Westminster Hills Dog Park?
The City of Westminster first learned of the applications for drilling permits in the areas around Rocky Flats, Woman Creek Reservoir and Standley Lake on Oct. 31 via Jefferson County, which had been advised by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) of the applications. The same day a story on the applications was published in the Denver Post. 

City staff immediately began work to learn more about the request and set up a meeting with the COGCC on Nov. 6 to obtain more information.

During the Nov. 6 meeting with the COGCC, the city learned that there was a public comment period already open for the applications, and the deadline for public comment was Nov. 22.

On Nov. 7, city staff shared the information about the public comment period with the public.

On Nov. 8 the permit applications to drill under Standley Lake and the Westminster Hills Dog Park were withdrawn by the applicant.

Who was the applicant?
Highlands Natural Resources Corporation

When did the Highlands Natural Resources Corporation permit applications appear on the  the COGCC website?
The applications for drilling under the Westminster Hills Open Space were published on the COGCC website on Nov. 2 and the application for drilling under Standley Lake was published on Nov. 5.

Who owns the land and the surface rights for the area they proposed to drill on? 
The City of Westminster owns the land and the surface rights. However, oil and gas laws allow mineral owners reasonable access to the surface to get to the minerals.

Who owns the mineral rights?
The city is in the process of working with a firm to help wade through historical documents to determine the ownership of the mineral rights, which is a complicated and time consuming process. 

Isn't this designated open space? What is the law regarding fracking open spaces? Not to mention the site being too close to our water supply.
Drilling on open space is inconsistent with the city’s open space program, as described in the Westminster Municipal Code. The city will be working with special counsel to assess how current state law can and cannot protect Standley Lake and open space and what next steps might be to protect Westminster’s prized open spaces and water supply from future mining activities.

What’s the city’s role? Does the city we have any authority? Can the city pass restrictions?
The city can provide comments on applications within city limits, but we do not have the ability to approve or not approve permits. COGCC, a division in the State of Colorado’s Department of Natural Resources, has this responsibility. Other cities have enacted moratoriums on drilling in the past, but the State Supreme Court has overturned these moratoriums. The city also has the ability to object to applications within our boundaries and request consultation with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and Colorado Parks and Wildlife.  We also regulate these operations via our Municipal Code 11-4-14.

The city will be working with special counsel to determine what type of restrictions within city limits are legally permissible. 

Is the city in agreement to drilling? What is the city’s stance on this issue and will there be city restrictions?
The City of Westminster is firmly against drilling near the city’s drinking water source.

What are we doing to protect the community from future acquisitions?
The city has hired an oil and gas attorney to work with staff to identify important next steps in protecting Standley Lake and Westminster Hills Open Space now and into the future.  There are a variety of options being reviewed. Likely it will not be one single solution. The city will be sharing details of these protective activities as staff is able.

What is the county’s role?
The county can only intervene on applications falling within their jurisdiction and outside city limits, but does not have the ability to approve or not approve permits. COGCC has this responsibility.

What is the state’s role? 
The COGCC is a division of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources. They are the state agency responsible for approving or denying oil and gas applications.

Contact:

Dave Loseman, 303-658-2125, dloseman@cityofwestminster.us