Longmont: City council approves drafting an ordinance for oil and gas regulations for a May 8 vote

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From the Longmont Times-Call (Scott Rochat):

…Tuesday night [the council] voted 6-1 to have its draft oil and gas regulations prepared for an ordinance. The regulations ban drilling from residential zones but don’t go quite as far in restricting companies as earlier rules did…

The rules stepped back from areas that the city feared might be pre-empted by the state. For example, disposal facilities would be limited to heavy industrial zones instead of banned outright, while closed-loop systems for disposal (a commonly-used alternative to open waste pits) would be recommended instead of required. The one holdout was Councilwoman Sarah Levison, who said the city should make a bigger push. She gave the example of setbacks, where the state currently requires a 150 foot separation between wells and occupied buildings, or 350 feet in urban areas…

she also suggested that the city ban disposal facilities from inside an urban renewal area. Heavy industrial zones are common in the Southwest Urban Renewal Authority, she said, where the city is committed to removing blight. Levison’s proposal will be studied by city staff, but has not yet been added to the regulations.

The regulations set up both minimum and recommended standards. Companies wanting faster approval for their drilling permits can get it by adopting all the recommended standards. As one example, the minimum standards follow the state’s setback rules but the recommended standards set a 750 foot distance from occupied buildings.

Currently, no oil and gas permits are being accepted by the city until after June 16, when a moratorium expires.

The discussion came on the same day that Boulder County extended its own moratorium to Feb. 4. The county moratorium does not bind the city…

An online copy of the draft regulations may be found at ci.longmont.co.us/city_council/agendas/2012/documents/041712_5B.pdf

Meanwhile, here’s a recap of the inaugural Niobrara Shale Conference being held in Denver, from Jason Shueh writing for The Greeley Tribune. From the article:

In the open panel discussion with attendees and mineral rights owners — many from Weld and Douglas counties — Cristy Koeneke, vice president of the National Association of Royalty Owners, said to be careful before signing anything when oil and gas companies come requesting a lease and offering a signing bonus. “What the companies do, what land men do, is they waive the bonus money at the mineral owner and say ‘Here, look at this hand and don’t watch this one,’ ” Koeneke said…

Koeneke was joined on the panel by association board member Michelle Smith and Niobrara News owners Joél and John Lambe — all mineral rights property owners.

“One of the things we would really like to see is better education between the mineral rights owners and oil and gas companies,” Smith said. Smith encouraged mineral rights owners to organize themselves with better networks of communication and in areas where there is a high amount of oil and gas production, like Weld, to hold monthly town hall meetings with land spokesmen from the oil and gas companies. “This would allow the mineral rights owners the ability to meet with the companies face to face so they have the opportunity to discuss issues that are of concern to them,” Smith said.

Also, Commerce City is still working on their proposed regulations. Here’s a report from Monte Whaley writing for The Denver Post. From the article:

Oil and gas companies would be barred from drilling at or near Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge or Barr Lake State Park, under proposed restrictions being considered by city officials.

Other limits on oil and gas extraction would call for increased setbacks for drilling rigs, noise mitigation requirements, limits on hours of operation and a water quality monitoring program. The proposals are part of a package of restrictions the city is mulling in an effort to lighten the impact of hydraulic fracturing in the community, said city spokeswoman Michelle Halstead…

The City Council Monday night once again held off on voting on a six-month ban on oil and gas drilling in the city to give staff members time to finish their work.

More coverage from the Denver Business Journal. From the article:

Commerce City will host two public meetings in May to gather public input on changes to the land use code. The open-house meetings will be held at the Recreation Center on May 15 and Second Creek Elementary School on May 16.

More oil and gas coverage here and here.

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