Oil & Gas Development
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Oil & Gas Development

Boulder County is concerned about the potential for significantly expanded oil and gas development within the county. We support appropriate tighter restrictions and increased local control to mitigate the impacts of these activities.

The Board of County Commissioners and staff have laid the groundwork for how the county will work to address the potentially hazardous impacts of oil and gas development on local public health, safety, and the environment.

In order to maximize the use of its limited local authority and protect county residents, Boulder County is committed to undertaking a series of legislative, legal, environmental, and public health approaches to help minimize the impacts of oil and gas development on people and the environment. Details of the county’s multi-pronged approach are outlined in this article.

Public Health monitors air quality in Boulder County. For a description of efforts being undertaken to measure and understand the various concentrations of gases and pollutants in the air, and for resources on home gas detection, visit Air Quality Monitoring.

Located at the state’s ozone monitoring site at the Boulder Reservoir, the atmospheric monitoring study will help inform the county on how oil and gas emissions may be contributing to unhealthy ozone levels being recorded at the site. It will also provide a baseline against which to measure potential increases in the amount of local and regional oil and gas emissions.

The atmospheric monitoring website presents near-real time measurements of concentrations of different gases:
View near-real time atmospheric monitoring at Boulder Reservoir

Sponsored by Boulder County Public Health and conducted by researchers from the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR) at the University of Colorado in partnership with the State of Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment (CDPHE).

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Information on Public Participation at the COGCC

Boulder County Raises Concerns About Oil and Gas Development Plans Submitted to the COGCC – Sept. 13, 2017

Leak Inspection & Repair at Oil & Gas Well Sites – Boulder County Voluntary Inspection Program Results 2014–2016

Public concern has grown in Boulder County regarding the health and safety implications of emissions from oil and gas activity. Boulder County has implemented a voluntary oil and gas inspection program in order to respond to this concern. Inspections have collected data on gaseous leaks and repairs since 2014, and an analysis of this data is now available: view the Boulder County Voluntary Inspection Program Results 2014–2016.

Boulder County and other jurisdictions submit amicus curiae brief in support of anti-fracking case

On June 29, 2017, Boulder County, along with San Miguel County, City of Boulder, Gunnison County, NWCCOG, City of Lafayette, and Town of Erie filed an amicus curiae brief in COGCC v. Martinez. The case involves a determination by the Colorado Court of Appeals that the Colorado Oil and Gas Commissioner must consider public health and safety when considering proposed state rules for oil and gas development. The COGCC and the oil and gas industry have asked the Colorado Supreme Court to review the court of appeals’ decision. The County and other jurisdictions argued that the Supreme Court should not review the court of appeals decision because government regulations should always protect the public health and safety.

Letter from 8 North, LLC and Great Western regarding Inspections – June 26, 2017 and September 1, 2017

Commissioners sign letter to Governor Hickenlooper from Local Elected Officials and Community Leaders regarding the Martinez v. COGCC Appeal – May 15, 2017

  • Letter to Governor Hickenlooper regarding the Martinez v. COGCC Appeal
  • Media release

County Commissioners call oil and gas operators in Boulder County to guarantee the safety of existing wells and pipelines – May 3, 2017

County Commissioners call on all oil and gas operators in Boulder County to shut down their vertical wells – April 27, 2017


Upcoming Public Hearings and Meetings

Meetings will be posted as scheduled. Sign up for oil/gas email news for meetings notifications.


Recent Public Hearings and Meetings

Board of County Commissioners Public Meeting – April 25, 2017


Public meeting for the Board of County Commissioners to discuss approaches, other than local land use regulations, to reduce the impacts of oil and gas development in Boulder County. The meeting was webstreamed and archived (select Event Bookmark #9).
Documents:

Board of County Commissioners Public Meeting – March 23, 2017

Docket DC-16-0004: Amendments to Oil and Gas Development Regulations

Public Meeting of the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) to consider proposed Land Use Code amendments addressing oil and gas development within the Boulder County Land Use Code. Public testimony regarding this item was taken at the BOCC public hearing on March 14, 2017.
Action Requested/Taken: Discussion and action. The Board of County Commissioners voted (3-0) to approve the proposed regulations as one part of a multi-pronged approach to address oil and gas in unincorporated Boulder County.
Documents:

Board of County Commissioners Public Hearing – March 14, 2017

Docket DC-16-0004: Amendments to Oil and Gas Development Regulations

Public Hearing for the Board of County Commissioners to consider proposed Land Use Code amendments addressing oil and gas development within the Boulder County Land Use Code. Public testimony was taken.Since the March 14 public hearing included several hours of testimony, the County Commissioners did not schedule a deliberation/decision meeting as part of the March 14 hearing. The deliberation public meeting was scheduled for March 23, 2017, where they discussed their findings from the public hearing and considered new oil and gas regulations for unincorporated Boulder County. No additional public testimony was taken on March 23, 2017.
Action Requested/Taken: Discussion. After several hours of public testimony, the Commissioners gave staff direction to make additional changes to the draft regulations for consideration on March 23, 2017.
Documents:

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 to and through May 1, 2017. View the announcement.


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).
Documents:

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.
Documents:

Past Review of Oil & Gas Development Regulations

View past review history

Crestone Peak Resources’ Comprehensive Drilling Plan Application to Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission

On Feb. 22, 2017, Crestone Peak Resources Operating LLC filed an application with the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC), asking approval of a “Comprehensive Drilling Plan,” or CDP, in Boulder County. A CDP is a preliminary step toward oil and gas development that attempts to plan for development throughout a large area. Crestone’s CDP covers 12 square miles (view map) in eastern Boulder County, between Longmont and Erie. Crestone’s CDP application contains few details on its plans; it has said it intends to develop the substance of the plan over the next 6-9 months, with input from local governments, state agencies and affected landowners. The application does call for a maximum of 216 wells divided among a maximum of 18 separate well pads throughout the CDP area.

In addition, Crestone asked the COGCC to put a hold on accepting any applications to drill in the CDP area while the plan is developed. Two other operators, 8 North LLC and Kerr-McGee, opposed the hold request, but on April 30, 2017, all three operators agreed to a nine-month voluntary standstill on filing any permit applications for the CDP area with the COGCC. The final CDP is now expected to be in front of the COGCC in February 2018. County staff is well aware of the significant concerns raised by large-scale drilling in the county and is committed to doing all it can to avoid or mitigate any impacts involved with the CDP.

County staff from all affected departments, including the Land Use Department and County Attorney’s Office, is taking advantage of every chance to gather information on Crestone’s plans, and the plans of other operators and stakeholders, and to provide input. Staff has pushed for further information (see letter from Boulder County to COGCC regarding Process for Rule 216 CDP Determination, July 7, 2017) on how the processes for developing and approving the plan will be conducted and when and how the public can give input and will make all information received available to the public.

Whether or not the CDP is ultimately approved, Crestone and any other operator will be required to go through the new Boulder County regulatory process before beginning any development.

See the COGCC Crestone Peak Comprehensive Drilling Plan webpage for more information, including Description and Timing of Process, CDP Plan Elements, and Map of Proposed CDP Area. The major documents filed in the CDP process can be found at the bottom of this page.

Boulder County Raises Concerns About Oil and Gas Development Plans Submitted to the COGCC – Sept. 13, 2017

Information on Public Participation at the COGCC

Sept. 11, 2017 update:

On August 9, 2017, the COGCC posted a timeline and outlined a specific process for its analysis of Crestone Peak Resources LLC’s application for a Comprehensive Drilling Plan (CDP). Information about this state-led process is available on the COGCC website and can be accessed from the County website at www.bouldercounty.org/property-and-land/land-use/planning/oil-gas-development/#1493145291842-4a6b4d46-ccff

Using this information, county staff and members of the public can now anticipate when Crestone will submit more detailed information on its application and when public comment will be accepted. COGCC requires Crestone to hold at least two public meetings that include all surface owners in the CDP area and there will be ongoing opportunities to submit written comment to COGCC as Crestone revises its plan from conceptual to preliminary to final between September and December of 2017.

Where to Direct Questions/Comments

Boulder County staff and commissioners have received numerous questions about the CDP process and how residents and the county can most effectively participate. The county will keep residents informed about any developments it becomes aware of as the CDP moves forward. However, residents should keep in mind that COGCC is responsible for the CDP and it considers the county a stakeholder, not a decision maker. In contrast, the county has full decision-making authority when it applies its Article 12 regulations to a county application.

Because the state-led process does not replace the local regulations, even if COGCC approves a CDP, Crestone will still have to apply for and receive a permit from the county under county regulations. In that permit process, the county commissioners would likely review the same drilling projects contained in the CDP application with COGCC, but the county will apply the rigorous standards and criteria of its own Article 12, not COGCC’s rules and requirements.

Because the county commissioners will be required to act as a regulatory body during the county’s Article 12 process, they cannot take a position on specific proposals within the CDP without compromising their regulatory position.

Moreover, it would be difficult, if not impossible, for the commissioners to give any substantive input on specific proposals or well locations without all of the information, consultation, public review, and multi-body consideration required by Article 12. Therefore, during the CDP process, county staff from all relevant departments will be providing information to COGCC as relevant to the CDP application, but it will be unable to engage in the analysis that will take place under Article 12 with all of the associated opportunity for input from experts and the public.

County staff is available to receive thoughts and comments from the public during the CDP process, but Boulder County urges all interested parties to submit comments on Crestone’s proposal directly to COGCC in writing and at all public meetings and proceedings. The County’s website and staff will provide available information for how to participate in the process and available resources for residents to formulate their responses. Thank you for your input and your continued participation in these processes.

Documents:

Maps

View COGCC rules for hearings. Rules 509 and 510 address objections and testimony at hearings. View COGCC instructions to submit a written statement under Rule 510.

Colorado Attorney General Lawsuit Against Boulder County

On May 2, 2017, the Boulder District Court dismissed the lawsuit filed by the Attorney General, as the issues became moot when the moratorium expired May 1. 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 Jan. 26, 2017. Boulder County responded to the Attorney General’s letter on Jan. 27.

Boulder County Open Space Mineral Interests

Boulder County Oil and Gas Development Map

Boulder County oil and gas development map image

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

Boulder County oil and gas development map

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.

Contact Us

Land Use

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

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2045 13th Street
Boulder, CO 80302
Hours:
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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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Mailing Address

PO Box 471
Boulder, CO 80306
www.BoulderCounty.org/lu