Elected officials in a third town in Colorado, Erie, on Wednesday night adopted a six-month moratorium on oil/gas development on an emergency basis, making the halt effective immediately.
Erie's Board of Trustees said it took the action to allow time to reach an agreement with oil/gas operators in their Front Range community in parts of Boulder and Weld counties to comply with local requirements that may in some instances be tougher than state requirements adopted by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC). They also want time to review and update the town's existing codes related to oil/gas.
The city officials took their action while acknowledging that towns in Colorado have "limited authority when it comes to the oversight of oil and natural gas operations within their boundaries." The board also directed the Erie town government staff to continue to work with the COGCC and oil/gas operators to address concerns.
Concerns being discussed include air and water quality monitoring, an operator's checklist, requirements for steel-rim berms and closed-loop drilling/hydraulic fracturing (fracking) systems, along with various other traffic mitigation and water control requirements.
Last month Erie's board authorized the town's purchase of $50,000 worth of source water monitoring equipment, noting that one of their concern is "the potential of chemicals used in fracking coming in contact with Erie's drinking water. The board directed staff to investigate methods of detecting such chemicals in Erie's source water."
The action by Erie and similar moratoriums in Colorado Springs and Commerce City come in the wake of the defeat last month of a state legislative proposal to prevent local moratoriums (see Shale Daily, Feb. 22).
The issue looms larger as oil/gas development in the state shifts from relatively sparsely populated areas to the more populated Front Range area, which includes the Niobrara Shale. At least one other city, Aurora, CO, reportedly is considering new controls.