Click the link to read the article on the Fort Collins Coloradoan website (Jacy Marmaduke). Here’s an excerpt:
One way or another, Fort Collins City Council is interested in limiting oil and gas activity as much as possible in the city’s boundaries and growth management area. What’s less clear is how they’ll try to do it. The city could adopt regulations, currently being drafted by staff, that effectively ban new drilling in city limits. It could incentivize the plugging and abandoning of wells or leverage new state rules to do so. Or Fort Collins could pursue another idea that attracted some City Council members’ attention at a March 22 work session: What if the city bought all the mineral rights in Fort Collins?
“I’m talking about buying out the operators who own the oil and gas,” Mayor Jeni Arndt said at the work session. “That just seems like an elegant solution that is probably cheaper than all these rules and regulations and potential lawsuits for takings.”
Staff are investigating the feasibility of Arndt’s idea while continuing to work on the regulations and considering how to facilitate the plugging of inactive or low-producing wells. Ralph Cantafio, a Colorado attorney who specializes in oil and gas, told the Coloradoan the buy-out idea seems “wildly impractical.”
But first, a rundown of the city’s draft regulations. Staff have been working on them since 2019, with the process drawn out as they awaited new state regulations on everything from setbacks to financial assurances. A 2018 state law gave municipalities the right to adopt oil and gas regulations that are stricter than the state standards and triggered the overhaul of the state’s regulations. City staff are considering draft regulations that would allow drilling only in areas with industrial zoning, located at least 2,000 feet from homes, parks, natural areas, schools, hospitals and anything defined as “occupiable space.” The 2,000-foot standard, unlike the state’s regulations, would leave no room for exceptions. It’s based on a Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment study that found the greatest health risks of living near oil and gas wells were for those living within 2,000 feet of the site. No land in city limits meets all the city’s draft requirements, so they would essentially prohibit new drilling. Council members haven’t expressed any discomfort at that possibility, pointing to the 2013 ballot measure where about 55% of voters supported a five-year moratorium on fracking.