Following planning commission approval of the draft oil and gas regulations, the Boulder County Board of County Commissioners is scheduled to hear public testimony on Dec. 1 prior to the expiration of a moratorium on applications at the end of next month.
Upon review, the planning commission recommended several changes to the latest draft, including extending the time for existing operators to submit registration materials, clarifying the necessary wildlife reports and surveys that are required, and revising the language on ambient noise levels for oil and gas operations.
The county last adopted oil and gas regulations in March 2017, prior to the enactment of a 2019 law that expanded local governments’ regulatory powers over extraction activity. The board implemented a moratorium in June 2019 on applications for new oil and gas development while county staff could work on updated policies.
Originally set to expire in March of this year, the moratorium now lasts through Dec. 31.
“Oil and gas development is, by its nature, industrial and intensive, and has the potential to significantly impact the surrounding community and environment,” county staff wrote in a briefing paper for commissioners. “Boulder County residents and officials have raised concerns about health problems, air pollution, water contamination, noise, odor, vibration, property damage, and other impacts that may be caused by oil and gas development, particularly the extraction method known as hydraulic fracturing or fracking.”
Among other features, the regulations would impose a 2,000-foot setback on extraction operations from homes and schools, implement a leak detection and repair program, and regulate the abandonment or decommissioning of wells.