Meeting with Synergy Resources Corporation
Over 400 individuals from Wadley Farms and the surrounding Thornton neighborhoods, along with a few supportive legislators attended Synergy’s September 16 community meeting at Rocky Top Middle School. Craig Rasmuson, Chief Operating Officer, led the meeting with a slide show presentation that corresponded to the company’s Wadley Farm Fact Sheet handed out at the beginning of the meeting. Attendees quickly questioned several of the facts on Synergy’s list. In fact, so many attendees raised their hands that a queue of at least forty citizens waited patiently to ask questions or make general comments.
A few of the contested “facts” on Synergy’s handout were: (#2) Due to new technology, Synergy’s “drilling phase is anticipated to be under 4 months.” This is a dramatic decrease in the “minimum of 9 months” they said would be necessary at their May 19 community meeting. (#3) “All of the setbacks provided by the COGCC are being met or exceeded.” Residents hotly contested that the distance from wells to Rocky Top Middle School were highly exaggerated, and that the Northern Lights Ball Field is not a mile from the proposed site as Synergy claimed, but within a half-mile radius. Another controversial fact (#9) is that “truck traffic will be similar to traffic at the existing facility.” At best, it would be a stretch to assert that the amount of trucks needed to operate a 3-well site would be “similar” to the number of trucks needed to maintain a large multi-well operation. (#10) Rasmuson stated that to date, with 22,000 oil and gas wells in Colorado, no water wells have been contaminated. This was proven false by a citizen who had factual evidence to the contrary.
On a positive note, Rasmuson agreed that Synergy is following the required regulation to perform an Alternative Location Analysis. He also stated that the MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) with Adams County Commissioners would be postponed until the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) has finalized its regulations pertaining to multi-well oil and gas facilities. Several times, Rasmuson admitted this was contentious site.
Synergy’s fact sheet placed emphasis on the need for pipelines as it relates to truck traffic. For example, during the construction phase, their graph showed an average of 700 semi-trucks needed per day without a pipeline verses 70 semi-trucks per day with a pipeline. The number of pickup trucks remained constant at 70 per day. Craig Rasmuson posited that the Wadley Farm site would not be possible without the necessary easements for pipelines.
A long-time Wadley Farm resident stated that Synergy is breaking its own “Code of Ethics” by not being 100% truthful on their fact sheet. In addition, the invitation they sent out over a half-mile radius looked a lot like “junk mail,” in that it had no return address and lacked any data that would make it look like an important notice. This lack of transparency is contrary to their “Code” and leaves residents concerned about accepting “Synergy’s promises carte blanche.”
A Hunters Glen resident and realtor addressed the fact that just the “perception” of a proposed large multi-well facility near her neighborhood has already affected home values. Perspective buyers simply say they do not even want to look at homes where drilling might take place.
Not all attendees questioned Rasmuson’s drilling proposal. Two Wadley Farm residents welcomed them to the neighborhood, mentioning that the oil and gas they produce will allow us to drive our cars and cook our food.
The availability of proper equipment to fight fires on the Wadley Farm site was also a great concern. Most oil and gas fires can only be doused with special foam trucks. The nearest foam truck is in Denver. Rasmuson said they would supply a truck to a nearby fire station.
Another concern was the recent disclosure by Synergy that they are now capable of dropping the cost of each drilling rig from $4 million to $2.5 million. While Rasmuson claimed this was due to more efficient well pipes and innovative technology, concern lingered over the effects of cost-cutting and the use of experimental technologies so close to people’s homes. The resident reminded attendees that BP’s Deep Water Horizon Disaster was a result of cutting corners.
For the most part, Craig Rasmuson was quite patient in answering the crowds questions and listening to their concerns. He mentioned that he spent a few nights near a drill site. “I’m a light sleeper, so it caused me a few sleepless nights.”
A Wadley Farm resident whose home abuts Synergy’s proposed site shared with Rasmuson that his autistic children will not be able to continue the good progress they have made living in the country once the noise, light, and commotion starts just barely 510’ from his home.
Another resident – “Just because Synergy has legal rights to the minerals under our homes, does not mean what they are doing, the fact that they are impacting so many lives, is ethically right.”
If Synergy’s community meeting sent a message, it is that there are simply too many unanswered questions about the safety of multi-well facilities in or near neighborhoods. The COGCC and the oil and gas industry are working to together to determine what is in the best interest of Colorado residents. The large turnout indicates residents want a voice in their decisions too.
Here are some ways you can add your voice:
- Attend CSU’s Symposium - “Doing Energy Right” – October 27, 1:00 to 7:00 pm and October 28, 8:00 am to 5:00 pm in the Lory Student Center, Fort Collins. The event is free. Contact Maury Dobbie at 720-491-3788 for more information.
- Contact your state legislators to enact legislation to protect all Colorado neighborhoods from multi-well oil and gas facilities. It is Gov. Hickenlooper's desire to make drilling a Colorado priority - we need to convince him that it's simply not "common sense business" to endanger citizen's homes and health. There is more to Colorado than oil and gas.
- Sign the ACCDAN petition on our website as visible evidence of citizen concern.
- Yard signs are available - purchase a yard sign for $16 from Fastsigns on 104th in Northglenn and place in your front yard. Hopefully, hundreds will spring up!
- Attend Adams County Commissioner meetings held every Tuesday - sign in at 9:00 to give a 3-minute presentation, or arrive at 9:30 to attend in support of other presenters. Organize your neighborhood HOA or
- Facebook friends to voice your concern.
- Email your County Commissioners and/or City Council Members.
- Contact your State legislators and ask for greater setbacks between drilling and homes.
- Keep the mantra – No drilling near homes and schools – visible on Facebook.
- Put this on your calendar - COGCC is beginning the rulemaking process to implement recommendation numbers 17 and 20 from the Governor’s oil and gas task force. The Commission is scheduling a special hearing on November 16-17, 2015, for the first rulemaking hearing. No other matters will be heard. Currently, the location for the hearing will be the Wasatch room in the Commission’s Denver office located on the 8th floor of the Chancery Building, 1120 Lincoln Street, Denver, Colorado 80203. The location may change and this page will be updated accordingly.