News Archive

August 30, 2019

Message from the Boulder County Commissioners on the county’s oil and gas regulatory efforts


Multiple efforts and strategies are needed from all sectors of the community to address the conflict between oil and gas development and the protection of public health and safety and the environment in Boulder County and throughout Colorado.

- Board of Boulder County Commissioners


Boulder County is doing everything possible to protect county residents and the environment from the harmful health and safety effects of hydraulic fracturing. That’s why we were surprised by the article published in the Longmont Times-Call and the Boulder Daily Camera on Aug. 27 (Boulder County Commissioners work to reform oil and gas regulations as advocates move forward with lawsuit) that characterized Boulder County’s oil and gas regulatory efforts as playing “small ball” in comparison to two citizen groups’ request that the courts reopen the 2016 Longmont fracking ban case. The article further went on to imply that the county is not in favor of the Longmont groups’ efforts.

There is nothing small about the county’s efforts to put the strongest and most effective oil and gas regulations in place to protect its residents. For the past seven years, as oil and gas development has ramped up in Colorado, Boulder County has been involved on every legislative, regulatory, and legal front to address the potential for new oil and gas development in the unincorporated county. While the “small ball” reference may have been intended to point out Boulder County’s deliberate and strategic approach to addressing the issue at all levels of decision making, we heard from some of you who felt the reference meant we were taking a lesser or minor role on strengthening countywide oil and gas regulations – and that simply is not true.

We have been committed from the beginning to protecting public health, safety, and the environment from the impacts of intensive oil and gas development and will continue to use a multi-pronged approach of legislative, legal, environmental, and public health strategies to fight for tighter restrictions and increased local control for Boulder County. The county’s efforts include countless hours spent by staff and the county commissioners testifying before the state legislature, actively participating in COGCC hearings and rulemakings, adopting the strongest regulations in the State of Colorado, and assisting other local governments as they seek to strengthen their own regulations.

Additionally, Boulder County has filed three lawsuits against oil and gas operators and the COGCC to protect the county’s property rights and has taken the lead in filing suit against Exxon and Suncor – demanding they pay for the climate impacts they are knowingly causing – and joined with other parties in suing the EPA for failing to include major oil and gas centers as part of Colorado’s ozone problem.

The county supports efforts being taken by citizen groups – like Colorado Rising and Our Health Our Future Our Longmont in the Longmont case – to push forward on important legal issues, such as the authority local governments have under Senate Bill 181 to protect public health, safety and welfare. The two aforementioned groups were parties in the original Longmont fracking ban case and therefore, unlike the county, have legal standing to ask that the case be reopened. (Boulder County submitted amicus briefs to the Court of Appeals and Supreme Court in the Longmont fracking ban case, but because it was not a party to the suit, it cannot ask the courts to reopen it.)

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In summary, we find it unfortunate that the newspaper article could be interpreted to characterize the county’s actions and the efforts of citizen groups as competing approaches rather than recognizing that multiple efforts and strategies are needed from all sectors of the community to address the conflict between oil and gas development and the protection of public health and safety and the environment in Boulder County and throughout Colorado.

We welcome your input on local oil and gas issues at oilgascomment@bouldercounty.org and we encourage you to participate in public meetings and hearings at the local and state level to help make your voices heard throughout the state and around the community.

Sincerely,

Elise Jones, Matt Jones, Deb Gardner,
Boulder County Commissioners



Three county commissioners sitting at dais