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Boulder County to consider extending oil and gas moratorium

Four months would give staff more time to research new regulations

A drilling rig is seen from Weld County Road 20 1/2 near Longmont on Monday.
A drilling rig is seen from Weld County Road 20 1/2 near Longmont on Monday.

To allow county staff more time to research new oil and gas regulations, the Boulder County Commissioners announced on Wednesday they will consider extending the county’s oil and gas moratorium another four months.

Originally approved June 28 to allow the county time to study Senate Bill 181 and the new powers it grants local governments for regulating oil and gas operations, the moratorium is currently scheduled to end March 28. However, due to the complex nature of the issue, county land use and legal staff said they need more time to ensure the regulations are as robust as possible while still avoiding possible litigation.

“We’ve put in hundreds of hours of researching the new areas of authority (in Senate Bill 181) that were not previously included in the oil and gas regulations,” Kim Sanchez, the Boulder County Land Use Department’s the chief planner, told the commissioners Jan 28. “And we do feel like there can be significant changes that could be made.”

If commissioners vote to approve an extension at their March 2 meeting, it would last until July 31.

In an attempt to avoid having to extend the moratorium, Boulder County land use staff set an ambitious schedule on Jan. 28 to amend Article 12 of the Boulder County Land Use Code by March 19, but even then, the commissioners noted it would likely have to push back the deadline so the public could have more time review and submit public comment on a very complex set of regulations.

The originally proposed timeline also overlapped with oil and gas rulemakings at the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, currently scheduled for April 29 and May 6-8, 13-15, and 27-29, which county staff and many county residents will be closely engaged with.

The Board of County Commissioners will meet at 2 p.m. March 2 to vote on extending the moratorium. Only written testimony will be accepted for this hearing. Comments can be emailed to by 5 p.m. Feb. 28 will be made available to the commissioners prior to the March 2 hearing.

If an extension is approved, the Boulder County Planning Commission will host a public hearing at 4 p.m. April 6 to receive public testimony on the proposed oil and gas regulations, which Sanchez estimated will be ready for release in February. This meeting will only be for public testimony. Because of heightened public interest in participation at this hearing, an online advance sign-up system will be used for public testimony.

After reviewing public comments, the Planning Commission will then meet again at 1 p.m. April 8 to discuss the regulations and make a recommendation for the Board of County Commissioners to either approve, modify or reject the proposed regulations. If a decision cannot be reached in one meeting, Boulder County staff scheduled another Planning Commission meeting for 4 p.m. April 27 if necessary. No public comment will be taken at either of these meetings.

Once the Planning Commission makes a recommendation, the Board of County Commissioners will host a public hearing at 4 p.m. June 18 to receive public comment. Again, because of heightened public interest, there will be an online advance sign-up for speakers at this hearing. Members of the public can also email testimony to

The commission will then begin its final deliberations at 5 p.m. June 25. Due to the complex nature and far-reaching effects of any oil and gas regulations, July 7, 9 and 14 also have been scheduled for discussion if needed.

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