Boul­der County con­sid­ers oil and gas ap­pli­ca­tion up­dates

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By John Bear

The Boul­der County Board of Com­mis­sion­ers hoped a pub­lic hear­ing on pro­posed up­dates to the county’s oil and gas ap­pli­ca­tions wouldn’t turn into a re­newed call for an in­def­i­nite ex­ten­sion of a series of mora­to­ria on oil and gas or an out­right ban on devel­op­ment.

Things didn’t ex­actly pan out that way.

Aside from two at­tor­neys — one from the Colorado At­tor­ney Gen­eral’s Of­fice and one rep­re­sent­ing the Colorado Oil and Gas As­so­ci­a­tion telling com­mis­sion­ers that parts of the pro­posed reg­u­la­tions ex­ceed the county’s le­gal author­ity — most of the 50 or so peo­ple who spoke didn’t mince words. Peo­ple who spoke to com­mis­sion­ers char­ac­ter­ized the oil and gas in­dus­try as “agents of death,” “an ob­so­les­cent in­dus­try … that should be eu­th­a­nized,” “the devil” and a “mon­ster,” among other un­flat­ter­ing de­scrip­tions.

“We are not liv­ing in mod­er­ate times,” said Boul­der County res­i­dent Paul Bas­sis. “The CEO of Exxon Mo­bil is the sec­re­tary of state and the man run­ning the EPA has sued it 14 times to keep it from do­ing its job.”

County of­fi­cials say the pro­posed reg­u­la­tions are com­pre­hen­sive and de­signed to pro­tect the health of res­i­dents and in­clude them in the process when­ever an oil or gas com­pany ap­plies for a per­mit. An out­right ban on frack­ing, or an­other ex­ten­sion to mora­to­ria on oil and gas devel­op­ment the county has im­posed since 2012, is not in the works, of­fi­cials say, be­cause two re­cent Colorado Supreme Court de­ci­sions struck down at­tempts by Long­mont and Fort Collins to ban frack­ing within their city lim­its.

The state at­tor­ney gen­eral’s of­fice is su­ing the county over its most re­cent mora­to­rium, which ex­pires in May.

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