Boul­der County oil, gas mora­to­rium ex­tended again

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By John Fr­yar

Boul­der County’s com­mis­sion­ers on Tues­day ex­tended their mora­to­rium on oil and gas de­vel­op­ment again, this time un­til May 1.

Plan­ners and the county at­tor­ney’s of­fice need more time to com­plete re­search and draft reg­u­la­tions the com­mis­sion­ers said back in Novem­ber that they wanted to con­sider, said Kim Sanchez, chief plan­ner in the Land Use Depart­ment’s de­vel­op­ment re­view divi­sion.

More time is also needed to give the staff time to de­velop a plan for im­ple­ment­ing the new oil and gas de­vel­op­ment rules and re­stric­tions, once they are adopted, Sanchez said.

Com­mis­sioner Elise Jones said it is “ab­so­lutely crit­i­cal” to have ad­e­quate reg­u­la­tions in place when the county be­gins ac­cept­ing ap­pli­ca­tions for drilling wells, pro­duc­ing oil and gas, and lo­cat­ing pipelines and other oil and gas fa­cil­i­ties in un­in­cor­po­rated parts of the county.

Jones also said that most of the com­ments the county has re­ceived about the pro­posed new reg­u­la­tions — and about per­mit­ting oil and gas de­vel­op­ment to re­sume, un­der stricter county con­di­tions — have been from “peo­ple say­ing ban it” or from res­i­dents call­ing on the county to keep ex­tend­ing its mora­to­ri­ums.

“But we don’t re­ally have that authority in the state of Colorado,” com­mis­sioner Deb Gard­ner said.

Given last May’s Colorado Supreme Court de­ci­sions over­turn­ing Fort Collins’ voter-ap­proved frack­ing mora­to­rium and Long­mont’s voter-ap­proved frack­ing ban, how­ever, Jones said it is im­por­tant for Boul­der County to re­place reg­u­la­tions she said are in­ad­e­quate with the strictest lo­cal rules it can.

Boul­der County’s orig­i­nal mora­to­rium was imposed in Fe­bru­ary 2012 and has been ex­tended sev­eral times. The cur­rent mora­to­rium, set by the com­mis­sion­ers on Nov. 15, was to ex­pire Jan. 31.

Gard­ner said May 1 felt “pretty op­ti­mistic” for com­plet­ing the work.

A pub­lic hear­ing on the pro­posed reg­u­la­tions was set for March 14.

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