Brad Johnson (Ultra Resources): ‘The [El Paso County] regulations in draft form are inefficient and burdensome and I would also add arbitrary in many instances’


From The Colorado Springs Gazette (Daniel Chacón):

“The regulations in draft form are inefficient and burdensome and I would also add arbitrary in many instances,” Brad Johnson, vice president of reservoir engineering and development for Ultra Resources, told county commissioners during a 3 ½-hour work session on the proposed regulations.

“The requirements are vague with conflicting definitions that will lead to ad hoc – not legislative – rulemaking, and that will eventually lead down a path of precluding a mineral owner from developing its resources, which is in fact the taking of property rights,” he said. Johnson said industry regulations at the state level were sufficient. “Important issues such as wildlife, groundwater protection, visual mitigation, location setbacks, noise, air quality and waste management, among many others, are all effectively regulated by the state agencies,” he said.

Here’s a report about the proposed drilling regulations from Debbie Kelley writing for the Colorado Springs Independent. From the article:

At the fourth public work session on the issue, commissioners agreed to move toward adopting a final document. Next, the county’s planning commission will review the proposed regulations in a special meeting next Wednesday, Jan. 4, at 9 a.m. at Pikes Peak Regional Development Center, 2880 International Circle.

The planning commission will make a recommendation to county commissioners, who will vote on the final regulations Jan. 31. A four-month temporary suspension on drilling permits expires the end of January…

Ken Wonstolen, a Denver lawyer who represents the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, a trade group, as well as Ultra Resources, an energy developer that wants to drill in El Paso County, said both of his clients are “concerned about the vulcanization of problematic aspects we find with the proposed ordinance.”

He specifically cited what he called the time consuming nature of the local permitting process, which in the draft regulations require hearings before both the county planning commission and approval by the county commissioners.

“There really is a fundamental disconnect between land-use planning and oil and gas development,” Wonstolen said. “If you can’t say no and you can’t say where and you don’t have a lot to say about how it’s down what is it you’re trying to say with your regulations? You’re trying to squash a round peg into a square hole.”

More coverage from Debbie Kelley writing for the Colorado Springs Independent. From the article:

The county started researching the issue a year ago, after companies began leasing vast amounts of mineral rights in eastern El Paso County, in preparation for drilling. Reactions, at this point, fall to one extreme or the other, says Commissioner Dennis Hisey.

“When we first started this process, I heard things about, ‘How intrusive is it going to be?’ ‘What’s it going to look like?’ ‘What will happen to the roads?’ Now, it’s either, ‘Protect our water,’ or, ‘This will be good for our county — when are they going to start drilling?’ Nothing in between,” he says…

Potential water contamination from oil and gas development — a big fear for many — is “likely to come from surface activities associated with site development,” such as fuel spills and chemical storage, Sean Chambers, general manager of the Cherokee Metropolitan District, pointed out in his written comments to county officials…

To protect drinking water, the draft regulations include conditions such as prohibiting earthen pits for storing water that comes back out of the well after drilling, says Craig Dossey, a county planner and project manager. “We favor the closed-loop system, re-piping the fluid and putting it in tanks,” he adds.

Meanwhile, Fort Lupton Mayor, Tommy Holton, is on board with the recently issued hydraulic fracturing disclosure rules issued by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. Here’s a report from the Fort Lupton Press. Here’s an excerpt:

According to Fort Lupton Mayor Tommy Holton, who sits on the commission, the Colorado rules appear to be a good fit for the oft-opposing factions in the debate over fracking disclosures, reducing the amount of testimony by industry and environmental concerns. “It went really well. We took 11 hours of testimony at the last hearing date, which was Dec. 5,” Holton said. “The staff compiled all of the testimony and the rebuttals, then staff and the industry worked with the environmentalists, all three got together last week and put together a new version that everyone could agree on.”

The regulations went forward virtually as written, a testament to the staff that prepared the legislation behind the scenes, balancing a host of varied concerns. “We didn’t change a thing from the recommendations of staff and industry,” Holton said. “It worked out really well. The environmentalists were happy, and the industry was happy and staff was happy.

More oil and gas coverage here and here.

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