Colorado Springs: The city council approves a six month moratorium on oil and gas operations within the city limits

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From the Denver Business Journal (Cathy Proctor):

Colorado Springs’ city council on Wednesday voted 8-0 to impose an “emergency ordinance” creating a six-month moratorium on applications for oil and gas operations within city limits, a move that could delay Houston’s Ultra Petroleum Corp. to drill on its land in the city…

Council President Scott Hente told the Colorado Springs Gazette newspaper that the proposed moratorium would give the city “some breathing room” to ensure it has the right regulations and ordinances in place.

More coverage from The Colorado Springs Gazette (Debbie Kelley):

While Colorado Springs City Council on Wednesday enacted a six-month moratorium on oil and gas exploration within city limits, Ultra Resources has submitted temporary use permit applications with El Paso County. Ultra is seeking county approval for three well sites in eastern El Paso County. The company also is getting state approval for the drilling. The applications are being worked through the county’s permitting system, said Craig Dossey, a county project manager and planner.

More coverage from The Colorado Springs Gazette (Daniel Chacón). From the article:

The six-month moratorium comes after a Texas-based energy company said in June that it wanted to drill for oil and gas on the sprawling Banning Lewis Ranch on the east side of the city. “I think it’s absolutely irresponsible for us not to look at our future and identify what the potential is for damage to us — or the good things that could come out of this if it’s done right,” City Councilman Merv Bennett said.

Issues the city might consider include water quality, soil erosion, wastewater disposal, wildlife and vegetation, geologic hazard and road degradation, City Attorney Chris Melcher said during the council’s special meeting…

The council’s moratorium, approved on an 8-0 vote, was created under an “emergency ordinance” that required only one reading. Nearly every ordinance that goes before council requires two readings…

About six people spoke in favor of the moratorium. Only one person, a representative from the Colorado Oil and Gas Association who drove to the Springs from Denver, spoke in opposition. Andrew Casper, the association’s regulatory counsel, said the oil and gas industry already faces extensive regulations at the state level. He encouraged the city to work within the state process and not to “rush” by enacting a moratorium.

More coverage from the Colorado Springs Independent (Pam Zubeck):

About a half-dozen residents voiced support for the hiatus, including Mary Talbott. “Six months will not make a huge difference in the oil and gas industry,” Talbott said. “The fact that you take the time to develop a coherent set of rules that protect our … environment and long-term prosperity is very important.”

Other residents expressed concerns about groundwater contamination, air pollution and a heavy industrial activity that could discourage the area’s prime economic driver — tourism.

The vote was 8-0 in favor of the moratorium, with Councilman Bernie Herpin absent

More oil and gas coverage here and here.

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