Judge declines injunction in Broomfield ‘forced pooling’ suit, sets stage for COGCC hearing

DENVER — A federal judge in Denver postponed a ruling on whether to impose an injunction that would stop Denver-based Extraction Oil and Gas from moving forward with plans to drill near the Wildgrass subdivision in Broomfield.

The decision, made Tuesday by U.S. Federal District Court Judge Brooke Jackson, ensures Broomfield residents who filed a lawsuit protesting the drilling project will have opportunity to present their arguments to the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission in March during a hearing that has been delayed several times. Extraction has said it won’t begin drilling until June, well after the hearing.

Colorado Rising, a group that seeks to curb fracking projects and increase regulations on oil and gas operators, filed a suit in January on behalf of mineral rights owners in Broomfield that challenges the constitutionality of provisions of state law that allow for an industry practice called pooling.

Pooling — referred to by critics as “forced pooling” and by the oil and gas industry as “statutory pooling” — is a way for oil and gas operators to access underground minerals owned by another party.

Those other parties, who receive a royalty on the proceeds for oil or gas pumped from the ground, do not have to consent to the drilling operation. In Colorado the non-consenting mineral rights owners in a pool are paid a smaller royalty than those who consent to participate.

Part of the purpose of pooling, which was added to state statutes in the 1930s, is to ensure a small group of mineral rights owners who object to drilling cannot hold up an oil and gas project involving multiple rights holders.

“Pooling has not only stood on sound legal footing for nearly a century, but it is a critical step in energy development that now requires detailed communication among mineral right owners well before permits are ever filed,” Colorado Oil & Gas Association president Dan Haley said in a statement when the suit was filed last month.

Colorado Rising is counting Tuesday’s decision by Jackson as a win — albeit a relatively small victory — despite the fact that he declined to issue an injunction to stop Extraction from pursuing the Broomfield drilling operation. The group will get a chance to plead its case to the COGCC without further delays.

“We are very pleased with this initial victory and this is just the beginning of Colorado Rising challenging the systems and policies that heavily favor the oil and gas industry and allow it to take advantage of Coloradans on a daily basis, ” Anne Lee Foster, Colorado Rising communication director, said in a statement.

DENVER — A federal judge in Denver postponed a ruling on whether to impose an injunction that would stop Denver-based Extraction Oil and Gas from moving forward with plans to drill near the Wildgrass subdivision in Broomfield.

The decision, made Tuesday by U.S. Federal District Court Judge Brooke Jackson, ensures Broomfield residents who filed a lawsuit protesting the drilling project will have opportunity to present their arguments to the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission in March during a hearing that has been delayed several times. Extraction has said it won’t begin drilling until June, well after the hearing.

Colorado Rising, a group that seeks to curb fracking projects and increase regulations on oil and gas operators, filed a suit in January on behalf of mineral rights owners in Broomfield that challenges the constitutionality of provisions of state law that allow for an industry practice called pooling.

Pooling — referred to by critics as “forced pooling” and by the oil and gas industry as “statutory pooling” — is a way for oil and gas operators to access underground minerals owned by another party.

Those other parties, who receive a royalty on the proceeds for oil or gas pumped from the ground, do not have to consent to the drilling operation. In Colorado the non-consenting mineral rights owners in a pool are paid a smaller royalty than those who consent to participate.

Part of the purpose of pooling, which was added to state statutes in the 1930s, is to…