Oil and gas development site on the Colorado Front Range 

Oil & Gas Development

Boulder County is concerned about the potential for significantly expanded oil and gas development within the county, and supports appropriate, tighter restrictions and increased local control to mitigate the impacts of these activities. A temporary moratorium on accepting new applications for oil and gas development in unincorporated Boulder County is currently in place through May 1, 2017.

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Colorado Attorney General Files Lawsuit Against Boulder County - Feb. 14, 2017

Response to Letter from the Colorado Attorney General - Jan. 27, 2017

The Board of County Commissioners received a letter from the Colorado Office of the Attorney General on Thursday, Jan. 26, 2017. Boulder County responded to the Attorney General's letter on Friday, Jan. 27.

Response from the Board of County Commissioners

The Boulder County Commissioners are looking to put in place the strongest set of regulations possible as allowed under state law  to help protect the health, safety, and well-being of our residents and the environment.

Last May, in response to the Colorado Supreme Court’s decisions regarding Ft. Collins and the City of Longmont, Boulder County rescinded its in-place moratorium on new oil and gas development applications (a moratorium that was set to run through July 2018) and adopted a new, temporary moratorium of a shorter duration. The purpose of the new temporary moratorium (set to expire May 1, 2017) was to provide the county with enough time to review the oil and gas regulations that the county adopted in December 2012 in order to address changing conditions and the current status of oil and gas drilling operations in Colorado.

Namely, the county’s 2012 regulations do not adequately address the shift toward large-scale consolidated facilities that residents are now witnessing across the Front Range: operators are now proposing to drill 20 to 40 wells per well site instead of the 1 to 4 wells per pad we had seen historically. Additionally, at least two state agencies, Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) and Air Quality Control Commission (AQCC), changed their regulations since the adoption of our 2012 regulations.
As a result of these changes, the county’s 2012 oil and gas regulations were not adequate and needed an update to ensure our local regulations do not conflict with new state laws, to better reflect more recent industry practices, and to best protect public health, safety, welfare, and the environment in Boulder County. It would have been irresponsible for the County to have processed applications for new oil and gas development under outdated regulations.

Boulder County understands the legal constraints on adopting local bans and lengthy moratoria; however, Boulder County maintains that its moratorium of a materially shorter duration is consistent with Colorado law.

The Board of County Commissioners is scheduled to review the updated regulations that staff has been working since last May at a public hearing on March 14, 2017, at 2 p.m.  Since the March 14 public hearing is expected to take several hours, the Commissioners do not anticipate making a decision that evening, but will table the docket to a public meeting on March 23, 2017, at 2 p.m. where they will discuss their findings from the public hearing and consider new oil and gas regulations for unincorporated Boulder County,

County Commissioners extend temporary moratorium on processing oil and gas development applications

Board of County Commissioners public hearing, Dec. 13, 2016 – The Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) considered the status of the temporary moratorium that was due to expire the end of January 2017. County staff requested a time period of approximately four months to finalize and implement new oil and gas regulations based on direction given by the BOCC on Nov. 15 and 17, 2016. Staff stated that they would need time to research and draft many of the additional provisions requested by the Board and to prepare to implement and administer the regulations. The Board extended the existing moratorium on new oil and gas development until May 1, 2017. View the announcement.

The County Commissioners have scheduled a public hearing for 2 p.m. on March 14, 2017 to consider a final draft of the regulations Since the March 14 public hearing is expected to take several hours, the Commissioners do not anticipate making a decision that evening but will table the docket to a public meeting on March 23, 2017 at 2 p.m. for a final decision and adoption of the regulations.

    Recent Public Comments

    Boulder County Planning Commission and Board of County Commissioners review of draft oil and gas development regulations (Docket DC-16-0004)

    See announcement. Additional public meetings and hearings will be posted when scheduled.

    Board of County Commissioners Public Meetings & Hearings(Docket DC-16-0004)

    Board of County Commissioners public meeting, Nov. 17, 2016 – The Board adopted Resolution 2016-130 formalizing the moratorium extension through the end of January 2017 and established December 13 as the date on which a public hearing regarding the moratorium’s status will take place. Staff will provide an estimate of the time needed to complete the requested research and develop amendments to the proposed regulations at the Dec. 13 public hearing.
    Documents: Board of County Commissioners public hearing, Nov. 15, 2016 – After several hours of public testimony, the Commissioners gave staff direction to further inquire into and develop changes to the draft regulations. Since this work cannot be completed by Nov.18, when the current moratorium was set to expire, the Board voted 3-0 to extend the moratorium on an emergency basis until the end of January 2017 so that a public hearing could be set to determine the status of the moratorium (i.e., if and how long to further extend the moratorium based on staff’s estimate of time regarding the necessary work to be done).

    Planning Commission Public Meetings & Hearings (Docket DC-16-0004)

    Planning Commission public meeting, Oct. 27, 2016 – The Planning Commission voted (9-0) to:
    A) recommend approval of the proposed regulations (Docket DC-16-0004) to the Board of County Commissioners, with the edits and direction they provided at the October 27, 2016 public meeting, and
    B) recommend that the Board of County Commissioners continue with a multi-pronged approach to addressing oil and gas development and consider a temporary moratorium on the processing of the required development plans for local oil and gas permits, for a period of time less than 5 years, to craft additional regulations based on new and recently published studies.
    No further testimony was taken.
    Documents: Planning Commission public hearing, Oct. 12, 2016 – Public comment was taken.

    May 2016

    County Commissioners Take Action in Response to Colorado Supreme Court Decisions on Oil and Gas Drilling, Adopt Resolution 2016-65 - May 19, 2016

    Read the Statement from the Boulder County Board of County Commissioners. View Resolution 2016-65, terminating the Temporary Moratorium First Enacted by Resolution 2012-16, as Extended and Amended by Resolutions 2012-46, 2013-18, 2013-50, 2013-55, 2013-56, 2014-88, and 2015-23; Establishing a New Moratorium on Processing Oil and Gas Development Applications until November 18, 2016.

    County Commissioners Respond to Colorado Supreme Court Decisions on Oil & Gas Drilling – May 2, 2016

    Read the Commissioners' Statement.

    Oct. 2015

    County Commissioners Respond to COGCC Draft Rules concerning Large-Scale Oil & Gas Facilities - Oct. 7, 2015

    Read the Commissioners' Statement.

    For a timeline of past oil and gas hearing, decisions, documents, and more, please visit our Oil & Gas History page.

    Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) Complaint Process

    The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) has launched a new complaint process.

    Oil & Gas Health Information and Response Program

    The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has launched a new Oil & Gas Health Information and Response Program website.

    Oil and Gas Development Map

    oil gas map

    The Boulder County Land Use Department has made an oil and gas development map available using Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission GIS data. View the Boulder County oil and gas development map.

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    Land Use Planning Division

    Email: Ask a Planner form
    Main: 303-441-3930
    Fax: 303-441-4856

    Courthouse Annex Building

    2045 13th Street
    Boulder, CO 80302
    8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. M, W, TH, F
    10 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Tuesday
    Plan review services for building permits are not available on Tuesdays.
    Building permits can be applied for and issued until 4 p.m.
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    PO Box 471
    Boulder, CO 80306

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