An energy company has submitted applications to drill 14 wells that would extend underneath Standley Lake in Westminster that provides drinking water to 300,000 people in the metro area.
Another 14 proposed wells would extract minerals under a nearby dog park.
Public comments are beginning to pour in to the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission after the applications for permits on the west side of Standley Lake and the nearby 420-acre Westminster Hills Off-Leash Dog Park were submitted to the state last week by Highlands Natural Resources Corp.
On Oct. 18, the company also applied to drill up to 31 wells near the former Rocky Flats nuclear weapons plant, which is just west of Standley Lake.
The proposed wells in Westminster buck a trend of oil and gas companies drilling primarily on the east side of the Denver metro area and highlight the high tensions that have arisen in the last few years between an industry eager to access valuable minerals that often lie under homes and neighborhoods.
The proposal also adds to the furious pace at which energy operators have been submitting applications to the COGCC for new wells in recent weeks, especially as the specter of a ballot issue that would severely restrict drilling loomed. That measure, Proposition 112, was defeated by more than 10 percentage points on Tuesday.
“NO No NO No No NO No NO!!!!!,” wrote one resident on the COGCC site this week. “This is public open space set aside for peace and public use. Plus every home … is on a well that works with water aquifers that would be connected to the drilling. NO WAY!”
On its website, Westminster said it “will always work to protect the interests of its citizens, its water supplies and open spaces.” But it also noted that the COGCC has the exclusive authority for reviewing and approving permit applications, “not the City of Westminster.”
The applications were submitted during a tumultuous week leading up to Tuesday’s midterm election, in which voters were asked whether they wanted setbacks for new oil and gas wells extended to nearly half a mile from buildings and water sources. Proponents of bigger setbacks say they are necessary to protect people from noxious emissions associated with drilling and fracking and to keep water sources from being contaminated.
For some living near Westminster Hills and Standley Lake, like other communities that have seen an increasing level of drilling and fracking activity near homes and schools, oil and gas development on the outskirts of neighborhoods and near lakes and park land is unwelcome.
“With more and more people moving to Colorado, to take this space away for drilling purposes is selfish and greedy,” wrote one resident. “Where will people take their dogs?”
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