March 2, 2020
Boulder County Commissioners extend oil and gas moratorium
A revised schedule for updating oil and gas regulations pushes moratorium to July 31, 2020.
Boulder County, Colo. - Due to the complex nature of writing oil and gas regulations and in order to provide the public with enough time to review and comment on the draft regulations, the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) extended the existing moratorium on accepting and processing new oil and gas development applications and on seismic testing to July 31, 2020. Public comments overwhelming supported extending the moratorium beyond the initial deadline of March 28.
At a public hearing on March 2, the Board considered a staff presentation and written input from the public in determining to extend the moratorium from its previous end date of March 28. The extension gives the public more time to respond to drafts of the new regulations before they go before the Planning Commission and, later, the BOCC. It also allows staff and the public to turn their attention to major rule re-writes happening at the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission through the month of May.
“The impacts have such potential to affect Boulder County residents, public health, the environment, our open space and air quality, so we need to get this right,” commented Commissioner Elise Jones. “We are not going to be able to do this justice or allow for adequate public review for these updated regulations under the current schedule, so I think this is a great case for extending the moratorium to July 31.”
The moratorium was put in place to give staff time to review and update the county’s oil and gas regulations in light of the changes made to local authority by Senate Bill 19-181. While staff has been diligently working on a regulatory overhaul, the original schedule for completing the regulations by the March 28 moratorium deadline was too ambitious, according to the BOCC.
“It’s as simple as we want to protect people and listen completely to their thoughts and concerns as we create the strongest regulations possible,” said Board of County Commissioners Vice-Chair Matt Jones. “This is an extremely complex issue and we need the time to do it right.”
Board of County Commissioners Chair Deb Gardner closed the public hearing by acknowledging the wealth of input they had received ahead of the hearing.
“Thanks to everyone who has commented and supported this journey all along in order to make sure we put in place the best possible regulations,” said Gardner. “We appreciate the fact that people who have spent so much time helping us refine and improve our regulations have asked us for more time to review what we know will be a very complex and involved set of regulations.”
The revised schedule for the roll-out of drafts and completion of final new regulations is as follows: (all meetings are open to the public and will be held in the Commissioners' Hearing Room.* Meetings listed as hearings will include public testimony (as noted):
- By Monday, March 9 – Staff anticipates the first draft of updated regulations will be published to the County oil and gas website (available at www.boco.org/OilGas).
- Monday, April 6 at 4 p.m. – Public hearing for Planning Commission to receive public testimony on the proposed oil and gas regulations. Public testimony only; no action by Planning Commission. Because of heightened public interest in participation at this hearing, an online advance sign-up system will be used for public testimony.
- Wednesday, April 8 at 1 p.m. – Public meeting for Planning Commission discussion and recommendation to the Board of County Commissioners or direction to staff to modify regulations. No additional public testimony. (Note: In observance of Passover, this meeting will finish by sundown.)
- (If necessary) Monday, April 27 at 4 p.m. – Planning Commission public meeting continued, if needed. No additional public testimony.
- Month of May – County staff participate in Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission Rulemaking Hearings.
- Thursday, June 18 at 4 p.m. – Public hearing for the Board to receive public testimony on the proposed oil and gas regulations. Public testimony only; no action by BOCC. Because of heightened public interest, there will be an online advance sign-up for speakers at this hearing.
- Thursday, June 25 at 4 p.m.– Public meeting for Board discussion. Adoption of regulations or direction to staff to modify regulations. No additional public testimony.
- (If necessary) Tuesday, July 7 at 1 p.m. – BOCC public proceedings continued, if needed.
- (If necessary) Thursday, July 9 at 3 p.m. - BOCC public proceedings continued, if needed.
- (If necessary) Tuesday, July 14 at 1 p.m. - BOCC public proceedings continued, if needed.
- July 31, 2020 – Revised end of moratorium.
Updates to the schedule will be posted on the County’s Oil & Gas website (www.boco.org/OilGas). In addition to participating at Planning Commission and Board of County Commissioner hearings, comments and information can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.