Here’s an in-depth report Mark Jaffe that’s running in The Colorado Sun. Click through and read the whole thing. Here’s an excerpt:
Colorado is quickly becoming a patchwork of oil and gas rules after a major law change — The #Colorado Sun: Boulder County wants to enact tougher regulations. Weld County wants to make it easier to drill. And the state is scrambling to keep up.
[Senate Bill 19-181: Protect Public Welfare Oil And Gas Operations] requires a host of new rules at the state level for things such as air emissions and assessing cumulative impacts of oil and gas projects, and at the same time local governments are moving ahead with their own rules…
The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission on July 31 adopted the first of these new rules, putting limits on the use of “forced pooling,” the ability of drillers to consolidate mineral rights even if the owners object. It did not come, however, without noisy demands from protesters to halt all permitting until the new rules are made.
On the local level, Boulder and Weld counties may be at the extremes. Boulder is looking to tighten already tough regulations while Weld is setting up its own oil and gas department to expedite permitting. But other counties and municipalities in the middle are also wrestling with the issue.
“Home rule is defined in law and case law,” said Kevin Bommer, executive director of the Colorado Municipal League. “Local control is an amorphous thing and wildly inconsistent.”
Until passage of the new law, the state, through the COGCC, held primacy in all key areas of oil and gas regulation, including siting.
The new law emphasizes that local government has the land use authority to regulate and site oil and gas locations to minimize adverse impacts to public safety, health, welfare and the environment.
Local governments also gain the ability to regulate impacts, including the ability to inspect facilities, issue fines for leaks, spills and emissions and impose fees to fund oversight.
It remains to be seen how these powers will be used, but the fact that two counties and six municipalities have enacted moratoriums on oil and gas permits while they review local controls has spawned worst-case-scenario fears among critics and the industry…
The COGCC is, however, at the beginning of developing new rules that could impact local decisionmaking, including a cumulative impact assessment, which could account for environmental impacts, and alternative site analysis, calling for operators to consider sites away from urban areas, for any drilling application…
Jeff Robbins, the COGGC executive director, said that the state working with local governments is the way to resolve these issues as they emerge.
“I want to be partners with local government,” Robbins said. “There are a lot of jurisdictions; we are all trying to make rulemakings.”
Robbins said he has met with Weld County staff and with Boulder County, as well with Adams County and other local governments.