News Archive

January 28, 2017

Boulder County Responds to Colorado Attorney General on Oil & Gas Moratorium


County Attorney responds to Colorado AG's request that Boulder County rescind its temporary moratorium on new oil & gas development


**This version includes corrected links to the two letters**

(Boulder County, Colo.) -- The Board of County Commissioners
received a letter from the Colorado Office of the Attorney General on Thursday,
Jan. 26, 2017. Boulder County responded back to the Attorney General on Friday,
Jan. 27.

Summary from the Board of County Commissioners - Friday, Jan. 27

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the City of Longmont, Boulder County rescinded its in-place moratorium on new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.

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 and Air Quality Control Commission,
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 It would have been irresponsible for the County to have processed applications for new oil and gas development under outdated regulations.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.

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For additional information, please see the Boulder County Attorney’s response to the Colorado Attorney General’s letter.