GET BREAKING NEWS IN YOUR BROWSER. CLICK HERE TO TURN ON NOTIFICATIONS.

X

A drilling rig is seen near the intersection of W. 160th Avenue and Huron Street in Broomfield in May.
PUBLISHED: | UPDATED:

Broomfield City Council unanimously voted to extend an oil and gas moratorium, which was set to expire Dec. 4.

City and County Attorney Shaun Sullivan explained how Broomfield staff has worked for the past 18 months working on the public process, which includes scheduling and hosting public workshops and study sessions.

On May 12, council approved an ordinance that changed the Broomfield zoning code and established a 2,000-foot setback.

Later that month, on May 26, council adopted an extended oil and gas moratorium, which is the current one that ends Dec. 4.

The COVID-19 pandemic emergency delayed regular council business, Sullivan said, and that of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. Broomfield needs additional time to review regulations and present them to council, he said.

American Petroleum Institute Colorado Executive Director Lynn Granger said the agency is “profoundly disappointed and frustrated” with Broomfield’s decision to impose a fourth consecutive moratorium on new energy production.

Local governments have some authority to regulate natural gas and oil development, she said, but they do not have authority to prohibit it. By kicking the can further down the road, Broomfield’s government appears increasingly committed to excluding the industry from the city and county.

“Colorado’s natural gas and oil industry is eager to provide a foundation for our collective economic recovery from the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, while always prioritizing public health, safety, welfare and the environment,” Granger said. “Our state economy remains imperiled, and decisions like the one made in Broomfield this evening only serve to exacerbate the pain felt across Colorado.”

COGCC is currently holding hearings for its Mission Change Rulemaking, according to the city, which will have a “significant impact” on how the state regulates oil and gas development. Broomfield is participating in the rulemaking hearings, which is using staff resources that would otherwise be devoted to revising the local ordinance.

The COGCC rules will not be finally adopted until January, the attorney’s office said, and the final version may result in additional modifications to Broomfield’s proposed ordinance.

Sullivan estimated an additional six months will be needed for city officials to complete their work.

Council approved the extended deadline, through June 4, on second reading at its Tuesday night meeting.

The move to adjust local oil and gas regulations came from the passing of Senate Bill 19-181, which Gov. Jared Polis signed into law on April 16, 2019. The new law grants local governments more authority to regulate “surface operations and nuisance impacts of oil and gas operations” without being preempted by state law than was allowed under previous state law, according to the city’s memo.

Council amended Broomfield’s oil and gas regulations in July 2018, but those regulations were constrained by law at that time. In early April last year, council asked staff to review and begin drafting amendments to the city’s oil and gas ordinance to broaden the municipal authority SB 181 granted the city and county.

Council also asked staff to create a process to allow public comments and input. That process was broken down into a number of workshops/study sessions that were dedicated to specific areas and council adopted a six-month moratorium to work on those regulations.

Topic areas included: environmental and nuisance issues; risk and impact to resources; location and siting; and administrative issues and infrastructure.

Broomfield council has held eight study sessions and three public workshops to discuss proposed regulations. After each study session and workshop, public comments and recommendations are evaluated.

“Moratoria are usually adopted to preserve the status quo while a local government is considering a change to its local land use regulations that it intends to apply to pending or future applications,” the memo from the attorneys office stated. “By adopting a moratorium, the local government can ensure new and pending development applications are processed under the law.”

The United States Supreme Court and courts in Colorado have found them to be legally permissible and useful land use regulation tools “if they are adopted for a reasonably short duration to allow for effective governmental decision making to preserve the status quo while a new land use plan or changes to a code are adopted,” according to the memo.

Also on Oct. 17, 2019, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment issued a study titled “Human Health Risk Assessment for Oil & Gas Operations in Colorado,” which discusses health impacts from oil and gas operations. Broomfield continues to evaluate this lengthy study to determine if additional regulations are needed.

blog comments powered by Disqus