News Archive

December 13, 2016

County Commissioners extend temporary moratorium on new oil and gas permit applications to May 1, 2017


Staff Given Additional Time to Finish Oil and
Gas Development Regulations


Boulder County, Colo. At a public
hearing on Dec. 13, county staff requested a time period of just over four
months to finalize and implement new oil and gas regulations based on direction
given by the Board of County Commissioners.

The County Commissioners
scheduled a public hearing for 2 p.m. on Tuesday, March 14 to consider a final
draft of the regulations. In the meantime, a moratorium on new oil and gas
development in Boulder County will remain in place through May 1, 2017.

County staff
stated on Dec. 13 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. In particular, staff must coordinate and hold staff
trainings with involved departments and agencies, prepare application
materials, handouts, and public information, develop fee and inspection
schedules, coordinate with Industry on submission of applications, and
coordinate with COGCC before the regulations go into effect.

For the purpose
of completing the requested research, finalizing the regulations and
implementing a plan to administer the new regulations, the Board extended the
existing moratorium on new oil and gas development until May 1, 2017.

Statements from the Board of County Commissioners

“Our residents, like this Board of County
Commissioners, are deeply concerned about the negative impacts that fracking
can have on the environment, public health, and the economy of Boulder County,”
said Boulder County Board of Commissioners Chair, Elise Jones. “It is absolutely
critical that we get this right so that we have the most comprehensive and
protective set of regulations in the State in place before anything else
happens.”

“The vast majority of comments we’ve received over
the past few months and years reflect a profound interest by community members
in banning fracking or enacting a lengthy moratorium on oil and gas development
in Boulder County,” said Boulder County Commissioner Deb Gardner. “Given the Colorado
Supreme Court’s rulings on preemption of state law over local law in this area,
we do not believe it is feasible to continue to totally prevent oil and gas
development in Boulder County. However, we will continue our efforts to rectify
this situation at the state level, and, in the meantime, work to make sure that
we use all of the authority we do have to ensure that the operations are as
safe and environmentally responsible as possible.”

“We feel strongly aligned with the community in our
desire to make sure that Boulder County has the strongest possible regulatory
environment in place to minimize the impacts from oil and gas development in
our county,” said Boulder County Board of Commissioners Vice-Chair Cindy Domenico. “While we need to move
ahead on a plan for developing and implementing regulations, we are actively considering studies that address the impacts of fracking on air, water, and public health, and requesting information
from staff and other sources on a regular basis to help guide us in calibrating our
regulations as we go forward.”

Background

The Board
initially adopted the current moratorium on May 19, 2016, and set an expiration
date of November 18, 2016. That replaced a moratorium initially adopted in 2013
that extended through July 1, 2018. The Board rescinded the longer moratorium
after the Colorado Supreme Court announced two decisions overturning efforts by
the municipalities of Fort Collins and Longmont to limit oil and gas drilling
in the form of hydraulic fracturing (or fracking) within city limits, including
imposing a lengthy moratorium.

The
purpose of the current temporary moratorium is to provide the County enough
time to review the land use code and adopt updates that address changes in
state law and oil and gas drilling practices.

For more information about the
county’s role in oil and gas development, visit the county’s
Oil and Gas Development webpage.