Broomfield Criticized For Oil And Gas ‘Witch Hunt’
A former Broomfield City Council member has sharply criticized the current leadership for continuing to focus on its campaign to undermine oil and gas production even the COVID-19 pandemic continues to ravage public health and city finances.
In a column published in the Broomfield Enterprise, David Beacom points out that the City Council recently furloughed 235 public employees because the crisis has severely curtailed tax revenue through lower economic activity yet hasn’t let up on its fight to stop production at Extraction Oil & Gas’ Livingston Pad.
“During this very real crisis, some on Council are obsessed with the Livingston O&G site project – to the extent of spending millions on outside experts, attorneys, new sound monitoring and even deploying additional air monitoring equipment,” Beacom writes.
“It’s immoral that Broomfield city employees are losing money with never-ending witch hunt of a business’ contract compliance so Council can attempt to shut them down?” he continued.
Dan Haley, President of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, told Western Wire that Broomfield’s priorities endanger the community by putting taxpayers and city employees’ livelihoods at the mercy of political considerations amidst the COVID-19 crisis.
“Once again Broomfield’s activist leaders have put their political agenda above any other concerns or realistic government service,” Haley said.
“The result is driving up the city‘s deficit and jeopardizing taxpayers’ hard-earned dollars. Now 235 furloughed city employees, people with families, are facing the brunt of these costly political agendas. Business leaders and taxpayers deserve more in terms of compromise and problem solving from our elected leaders,” he added.
Broomfield political leaders have long had a contentious relationship with the oil and natural gas development. Last year, a slate of city council candidates were elected vowing to take on the industry, including Jean Lim, who Beacom specifically calls out in his op-ed for blocking an overflow medical site for COVID-19 patients.
“This shocking evidence of flame-fanning came during the April 8 Council meeting, where Councilmember Jean Lim expressed concern the 1stBank Center could possibly serve as an overflow site for COVID-19 patients. She wants it held in reserve for some unknown emergency she expects might somehow be caused by O&G operations,” Beacom writes.
Beacom cites the rebuttal to Lim from Kevin Standbridge, the deputy city and count manager.
“I don’t quite know what to say to your comment,” Standbridge responded. “The COVID virus is real. It’s here, we’re going to have to prepare to address the health needs of our residents and I’m just floundered how to answer your question. … to suggest that it’s inappropriate for us to be working on this with our partners, I don’t what to say.”
Lim’s attempt to block an overflow site is just the latest in the city’s campaign against the industry.
Earlier this month, Western Wire reported on a state district judge’s ruling that blocked a Broomfield order that would have stop Extraction’s production due to the pandemic, citing increased health concerns due to the outbreak.
But Judge Robert W. Kiesnowski rejected Broomfield’s argument and rebuked the city for placing politics over public health.
“It is also contrary to the public interest to single out a legal but politically unpopular business and shut it down; and for a government to disregard fundamental property and contract law principles of vested rights,” he wrote in his ruling.
Beacom says Extraction has spent $500 million to create what he calls “one of the most environmentally responsible oil and gas operations in the country.” Yet the city continues to operate duplicative air monitoring even while the pandemic may force more furloughs.