Boulder County Again Extends Moratorium On Oil And Gas Development

By John Fryar, The Denver Post |

Boulder County’s commissioners on Tuesday extended their moratorium on oil and gas development again, this time until May 1.

Planners and the county attorney’s office need more time to complete research and draft regulations the commissioners said back in November that they wanted to consider, said Kim Sanchez, chief planner in the Land Use Department’s development review division.

That time is also needed to give the staff time to develop a plan for implementing the new oil and gas development rules and restrictions, once the commissioners adopt them, Sanchez said.

Boulder County’s original moratorium was imposed in February 2012 and has been extended several times. The current moratorium, set by the commissioners on Nov. 15, was to expire Jan. 31.

Commissioner Elise Jones said it is “absolutely critical” to have adequate regulations in place when Boulder County’s moratoriums end and the county begins accepting, reviewing and processing applications for drilling wells, producing oil and gas, and locating pipelines and other oil and gas facilities in unincorporated parts of the county.

It’s “really important that we get it right,” Jones said.

Commissioner Deb Gardner said many Boulder County residents aren’t satisfied with moratoriums and “want us to ban fracking,” the hydraulic fracturing process of injecting sand, water and chemicals underground to free up oil and gas deposits.

“But we don’t really have that authority in the state of Colorado,” Gardner said. She said it is important to come up with the best local oil and gas development regulations that legally can be implemented, in an effort “to keep people and the environment safe in Boulder County.”