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County Commissioners hold hearing to update oil & gas regulations

Last Thursday, the Boulder County Commissioners held another meeting to discuss Article 12 of the Land Use Code, which essentially updates regulations related to oil and gas development.

No additional public testimony was taken as it had been allowed at previous meetings throughout the year. Many of these previous meetings were attended by Niwot High’s own Environmental Club, and the group was even mentioned by Commissioner Elise Jones later in the meeting.

“We hear you,” Jones said. “Many of you [not just the NHS environmental club, but individuals across the county] have called on us to completely ban fracking… That’s being litigated in the courts, [and] Boulder County is watching very closely.”

It only lasted about 42 minutes, but the first part of the meeting focused on updates to the 4th draft of oil and gas regulations. Some of these edits included edits to odor/noise complaints, wildlife protections, operator responsibilities and liabilities, emergency response plans, distance of setbacks (i.e. how far wells can be from buildings), and more. However, these edits were not discussed in thorough detail, perhaps as a way to encourage people to read the drafted updates.

The commissioners did ask a few clarifying questions of staff throughout, but their comments were largely final thoughts on the process.

Commissioner Matt Jones said, “That’s our job, to protect the people who live here and protect the environment...It’s a great day, these rules are the strongest rules in the state, I think they will be a model for others.”

Due to the moratorium, which is in place through Dec. 31, the county will not yet be accepting or processing new oil and gas development applications. This is in light of Senate Bill 19 - 181, which “ensures that oil and gas development and operations in Colorado are regulated in a manner that protects public health, safety, welfare, the environment, and wildlife resources.”

Commissioner Matt Jones moved that they approve the amendments and Commissioner Elise Jones seconded the issue. Commissioner Deb Gardner declared that the board was all in favor, saying, “We couldn’t have done this without the public input….You never stopped giving your input and we never stopped listening.”


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