If you go

What: Boulder City Council's first reading of a proposed ordinance to extend the city's halt on processing oil and gas applications

When: Meeting starts at 6 p.m. Tuesday; sign-ups for speaking during the public hearing begin at 5 p.m.

Where: Boulder Municipal Building, 1777 Broadway

Boulder's City Council on Tuesday will discuss extending a soon-to-expire ban on drilling, despite a decade-long lack of interest from the oil and gas industry in operating in the city.

A moratorium has been in place for the past five years. A one-year measure was first adopted by the council, then extended by voters via a 2013 ballot measure for an additional five years. The current freeze on applications expires June 2.

The council can re-up the moratorium through June 3, 2020, or implement a shorter extension that lasts through the Nov. 6 election. The latter option would give voters a chance to approve their own extension.

City staff has recommended continuing the ban but not the means of doing so, said Policy Adviser Carl Castillo.

"We feel that's a purely political" decision, Castillo said.

The city has not received an application for oil and gas development in 10 years, he noted. The last oil and gas well in Boulder was capped nearly three decades ago. But recent moves by drillers elsewhere in Boulder County was, at least in part, a motivator to take a "cautionary step."


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Two Denver-based companies, Extraction Oil & Gas and Crestone Peak Resources, are advancing through a regulatory process that would allow them to develop a combined 16,000 acres of Boulder County open space.

A moratorium protects 45,600 acres of city-owned open space, Castillo said, that is "much further east and more susceptible" to drilling interests. As technology evolves and resources exhausted elsewhere, previously untapped areas may become more attractive.

"You just don't know," he said. "It could happen."

Crestone did not respond to questions about potential future drilling interest in Boulder. Extraction deferred to industry group Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA), which did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

An anonymous industry official last year told the Camera that the community's intense opposition to fracking was a strong deterrent. "I wouldn't touch it," said the unnamed drilling site manager.

Council members clearly expect strong engagement during Tuesday's first reading of the proposed ordinance. An agenda item for the public hearing estimates two hours of discussion.

Shay Castle: 303-473-1626, castles@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/shayshinecastle