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October 28, 2020

Boulder County responds to threat to protected land in Weld County

Boulder County files emergency motion to stop Extraction Oil & Gas, Inc. from drilling wells until lawsuits against Extraction have concluded.

(Boulder County, Colo.) -- In early October, Extraction Oil & Gas, Inc. notified nearby residents that it intends to begin drilling 21 oil and gas wells on property in Weld County near the Boulder County line. Boulder County owns a conservation easement over the property where the well pad is proposed, which protects the high-quality agricultural and open space qualities of the land.

In 2019, Boulder County filed two lawsuits challenging Extraction’s legal rights to drill on the protected property. Both lawsuits are currently on appeal at the Colorado Court of Appeals.

In June 2020, Extraction filed for bankruptcy. The bankruptcy filing put a pause over the lawsuits. On Oct.14, a Boulder County resident passed on to County staff a letter he received from Extraction laying out its imminent drilling plans. Boulder County received no notice from Extraction. In order to protect its property and east county residents despite the bankruptcy stay on litigation, on Oct. 28, the County filed an emergency motion in the Delaware bankruptcy court for permission to move forward in the Colorado courts.

“If the bankruptcy court lifts the stay on the lawsuits, Boulder County will ask the court to stop Extraction’s construction activities until our appeal is fully concluded,” said Senior Assistant County Attorney Kate Burke. “We find it ironic that Extraction is trying to accomplish its drilling plans under the protection of the bankruptcy stay while it had no problem initiating a lawsuit against Broomfield in September.”

“It is shocking that Extraction would attempt to proceed with drilling on our conservation easement property while its legal rights to do so are in question,” said Commissioner Elise Jones.

“If Extraction proceeds, it will cause harm to the property that could never be fully repaired,” said Commissioner Deb Gardner. “We will do everything we can to stop them.”

Commissioner Matt Jones said, “Since Boulder County has a clear interest in the property, it is outrageous that Extraction did not notify the county of their plans. They have had months to let us know of their intentions, but chose not to. They say they are committed to working with communities, but their actions say otherwise. We thank the alert county resident who brought this issue to our attention.”

View of Pleasant View Farms agricultural land

View of Pleasant View Farms agricultural land in Weld Co. (protected by a Boulder County conservation easement)

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Related announcement: Boulder County files lawsuits against two drilling companies (9/25/18)

Boulder county Board of County Commissioners