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Boulder County statement on oil and gas drilling from Commissioners Cindy Domenico, Will Toor and Deb Gardner:

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Boulder County, Colo. – Boulder County is concerned about the potential for significantly expanded oil and gas drilling within the county, and supports appropriate, tighter restrictions on drilling and increased local control to mitigate the impacts of these activities.

However, Boulder County and other local governments in Colorado do not have complete authority to regulate drilling. In order to ensure both our Comprehensive Plan and Land Use regulations are as thorough and up-to-date as possible, today we approved a temporary moratorium on the processing of the required development plans for local oil and gas permits under the county Land Use Code (Resolution 2012-16). This will give us time to make sure that, within the limits of our legal authority, we are able to mitigate local impacts from these activities and to maximize protection for the people and environment of Boulder County.

Boulder County does not voluntarily allow oil and gas drilling on its open space properties. Like many private landowners, we often do not own the rights to a given property’s oil and gas deposits. In other cases, the mineral rights were leased prior to acquisition of the land by the county. In those instances, the county does not have the ability to prohibit drilling, even though it is the surface landowner. As the surface owner, we do negotiate surface use agreements prior to drilling, and in doing so, we attempt to minimize those impacts to the maximum extent possible.

Through our Land Use Code, we do have some local authority over oil and gas drilling on private and public land; however, substantial authority for regulation of oil and gas operations lies with the state and federal governments, so there are limits on what we can restrict. For instance, it is unlikely that Boulder County could simply prohibit hydraulic fracturing on either public or private land in the county.

Boulder County has and is actively supporting efforts to strengthen state regulation, and to expand local authority in the area of oil and gas drilling. We supported legislation signed by former Gov. Bill Ritter to strengthen oil and gas rules and to reform the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. We have also advocated for a stronger disclosure requirements of fracking fluids, although the COGCC ultimately approved requirements that did not include our requests for a process that would allow any leaks to be traced, nor for pre- and post-drilling water monitoring. Finally, we are supportive of legislation that Rep. Matt Jones of Louisville is sponsoring in the 2012 General Assembly to expand local authority over drilling.

We also authorized staff to set a public hearing for Thursday, March 1 to take public testimony on the local impacts associated with oil and gas development, and on the appropriateness of continuing or amending the temporary moratorium on the processing of land use applications for oil and gas development which we approved today. This meeting will begin at 4 p.m. in the Commissioners’ Hearing Room on the third floor of the Boulder County Courthouse at 1325 Pearl St. in Boulder. Staff from several county departments will be making presentations regarding our current regulations and the development we have seen on our open space properties.



Barbara Halpin
Boulder County Public Information Officer
BHALPIN@bouldercounty.org
303-441-1622


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