Bill would give Colorado cities more control over oil/gas well locations

Longmont council to consider supporting legislation

By Karen Antonacci

Staff Writer

POSTED:   03/09/2016 08:09:16 PM MST | UPDATED:   A DAY AGO

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An oilfield worker starts his day’s work before the
sun rises over an oil rig near Kersey, (RJ Sangosti / The Denver Post)

City staff are recommending that the Longmont City Council support draft legislation that would allow local governments more control over oil and gas well locations.

Rep. Mike Foote and Sen. Matt Jones are sponsoring the bill. Foote said the measure is set to be introduced in the Colorado House of Representatives by Friday.

The bill would allow municipalities and county governments to exercise land use authority over where an oil and gas well is located.

In other words, the bill would require an oil and gas developer to follow not just the siting rules set by state agency Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, but additional rules from a city, town or county.

Longmont, Boulder, Boulder County and other local governments are closely watching the lawsuit Longmont has in front of the Colorado Supreme Court concerning a hydraulic fracturing ban. Longmont has also gone to court before to argue for its authority in siting oil and gas wells.

Foote said the bill is needed because the local control issue still hasn’t been solved in the last three or four years.

“There’s been lots of discussion, but it’s still not there,” Foote said. “There still are a lot of residents and communities who still don’t have a say on what happens in their backyards.”

COGA spokesman Doug Flanders said via email he has been in conversations with Rep. Foote and Speaker of the House Rep. Dickey Lee Hullinghorst about the draft bill. It would be inappropriate to comment on the language of the draft at this early stage, Flanders said, but COGA has in the past argued against a state patchwork of regulations.

The “industry is looking for regulatory consistency across all 64 counties and hundreds of municipalities while ensuring that private property mineral rights are not impacted or become the victim of the political leanings of any one jurisdictional border,” Flanders said.

In a previous lawsuit, COGA and the COGCC sued the city of Longmont over city-enacted oil and gas regulations that banned surface drilling in residential areas and could require water-quality monitoring, among other measures. COGA and the COGCC dropped the oil and gas regulation lawsuit against Longmont as part of a larger compromise between local governments and the oil and gas industry.

Foote said the draft bill only has to do with siting.

“This is just where an oil and gas facility can go,” Foote said. “It’s not regulating noise or truck traffic or any of the other things that are under dispute as to whether or not local governments have control.”

The Longmont City Council will consider whether to support the bill at its regular meeting 7 p.m. Tuesday at 350 Kimbark St.

Karen Antonacci: 303-684-5226, antonaccik@times-call.com or twitter.com/ktonacci

link to the article here