Boulder County has released its latest draft of, and is seeking public comments about, proposed updates to its regulations about oil and gas development in unincorporated parts of the county.
The new proposal, the second draft of proposed revisions to existing county regulations, are to be the topic of public hearings set to begin Nov. 9, according to a Tuesday news release.
The Planning Commission will review the proposed regulations beginning Nov. 9, followed the Board of County Commissioners’ review starting Dec. 1 (see full schedule below).
The proposed regulations are in response to Senate Bill 19-181, a law enacted last year by the Colorado Legislature, a measure Boulder County that officials said in their news release “prioritizes the protection of public safety, health, welfare, and the environment in the regulation of the oil and gas industry and grants additional authority to local governments to regulate the impacts of oil and gas development.”
Boulder County officials said the updated regulations would provide “for close scrutiny of all proposed oil and gas development and multiple opportunities for public input prior to any decision being made. For any new oil and gas development applications, these regulations will allow staff, the Parks and Open Space Advisory Committee, the Planning Commission, and the Board of County Commissioners to consider site-specific circumstances and possible measures to avoid, minimize, and mitigate adverse impacts in determining whether to approve or deny a proposal.
“In addition, the proposed regulations will help to ensure careful monitoring and enforcement over oil and gas operations, including existing oil and gas facilities,” county officials said.
According to a staff summary of the latest draft if the proposed regulations, no oil or gas well pad could be located within 2,000 feet of any dwelling, educational facility, or child care center.
Staff said the new draft would clarify “how and when applications for oil and gas operations will be denied” and would add a section about governing abandoned wells and pipelines.
It would update noise and odor control regulations and require oil and gas permit applicants to submit “numerous additional plans” for county review “to demonstrate protections for public health, safety, and welfare and the environment and wildlife,” including new weed control and dust suppression plans, a photometric study, worker training requirements, a safety management plan, and “assessments and modeling of current and projected air quality.”
Boulder County has a moratorium on accepting and processing new oil and gas development and seismic testing in place through Dec. 31 while the proposed regulation updates are under review — so that any new applications to drill can be reviewed under the most protective, updated regulations that are ultimately adopted,” county officials said.
That moratorium was originally imposed in June 2018 and extended last March and again this past July. No applications for oil and gas development have been submitted to Boulder County to date while the moratorium has been in effect, officials said Tuesday.
The county’s tentative schedule for reviewing the updated regulations, with each meeting listed below expected to begin at 4 p.m.:
- Nov. 9: Boulder County Planning Commission public hearing to take testimony on the proposed county regulations.
- Nov. 10: Boulder County Planning Commission to discuss and make recommendation to the Board of County Commissioners about the proposed regulations, or to direct staff to modify the proposal. No additional public testimony is to be taken at that Nov. 10 meeting. The Planning Commission will continue those proceedings on Nov. 19 and Nov. 19, if need be.
- Dec. 1 : Board of County Commissioners to take public testimony on the proposed regulations.
- Dec. 3: Board of County Commissioners to discuss and vote to adopt the updated regulations or to direct staff to modify the proposal. The commissioners will continue those proceedings on Dec. 10 and Dec. 15, if need be.