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Broomfield, CO, Again Votes for More Drilling Oversight

Broomfield, CO, which has long sought more oversight of oil and natural gas operations, on Tuesday called for rules that impact energy operations within city boundaries.

With the mayor pro tem and one councilwoman absent, eight council members unanimously
passed an amended Ordinance No. 2067 to establish reporting rules that are an outgrowth of various steps taken last year, including passage of a local ballot measure.

Since a study session in April to revise draft regulations, the city hammered out the ordinance and the city council took comments in late May. In June a public hearing was held, all leading up to the vote on Tuesday.

Last November, Broomfield voters passed Ballot Question 301 by 57%, which tied local public health and safety issues to oil and gas drilling. The Denver suburb of about 56,000 residents four years earlier passed a charter amendment calling for a five-year ban on hydraulic fracturing. The measure was upheld by a state district court judge.

The latest regulations include a "special review permit process" that includes a pre-meeting on site, along with potential requirements on a site-specific basis. There are also provisions for an operator agreement.

The Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA) said it had reservations about parts of the Broomfield regulations, but indicated that it is willing to work with local officials to resolve some of those concerns.

Noting the main concerns are in the current language, COGA CEO Dan Haley reiterated that Colorado law "precludes local governments from regulating areas of oil and natural gas operations that are regulated by the state," and the state Supreme Court made that " abundantly clear" two years ago.

"We're always willing to listen and engage with cities in order to find regulatory framework that meets their needs, but also meets the requirements of state law,” Haley said.

The tug-of-war between local government and state agencies in overseeing Colorado's robust oil and gas activities has played out for nearly a decade. The state Supreme Court has made it clear that state jurisdiction over oil and gas prevails, and various local efforts to inject more rules at the county and city level have had mixed results.

However, statewide efforts to secure a spot on the November ballot for the State and Local Oil and Gas Development Regulations Initiative has caught the attention of mineral rights owners, COGA and others concerned about future energy development in the state.

 

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