From The Denver Post (Bruce Finley):
Colorado residents fed up with what they see as the state’s failure to protect people and the environment are fighting fossil-fuel development inside their towns by making new rules requiring odor control, bigger setbacks and company disclosure of underground oil and gas flowlines.
But the industry and state government are ready to fight back.
An odor-control measure in Erie, letting police hit companies with tickets for foul fumes, takes effect next week.
Erie, Broomfield, Thornton and Lafayette are each developing map submission rules, with leaders saying the fatal April 17 house explosion in Firestone makes this a no-brainer. Broomfield residents also will vote on whether to change their charter to require protection of health, safety and the environment as preconditions before drilling inside city limits can be done…
“The odor ordinance? We will see how that is applied in Erie,” COGA president Dan Haley said in an interview at a fossil-fuels energy summit in Denver. “It clearly was an effort to go after oil and gas. It will have broader impacts if it is applied aggressively.”
And Thornton’s latest 750-feet setback and flowline-removal rule, Haley said, is a case where “you have a City Council passing illegal regulations after a very limited stakeholder process.”
Gov. John Hickenlooper announced Tuesday that an existing 811 notification system will be used to give site-specific underground flowline information to residents, planners and builders — instead of a public website. COGA favors that approach because pipeline information quickly becomes outdated as new lines are installed, Haley said. Industry leaders and Hickenlooper invoked the potential for terrorism or monkey-wrenching, too, should flow line network maps be made public…
But Lafayette mayor Christine Berg bristled at “loopholes” favoring oil and gas companies and said locals must be able to protect health, safety and the environment within urban boundaries.
“We are putting something on our books saying we want to know where the flowlines are. The city does not have a good sense of where the existing lines are,” Berg said. “This is within our purview. We have fought before. We are not averse to working through the judicial system.
“What has happened is that local control issues have not made it onto a statewide ballot. And we haven’t gotten traction with state lawmakers. This is what the communities want.”
Not only are industry groups prepared to challenge local rules they see as restrictive, but state COGCC officials are asking the state Supreme Court to review and reject the Martinez decision. State Supreme Court rulings already have buttressed COGCC power by striking down moratoriums and bans on drilling inside municipal limits such as those attempted by Longmont and Fort Collins.
But as oil and gas drilling gets closer to communities, the more Front Range residents are compelling elected leaders to set limits, using land-use and zoning codes to control industrial operations.