A persistent advocate for local control over oil and natural gas development, officials in Broomfield, CO, on Tuesday extended a moratorium on new drilling for another six months.
City officials want more time to change local oil and gas and land use regulation, and extending the ban until June 4 would provide "more certainty and clarity to the oil and gas operators" without trying to simultaneously review and process new drilling applications in the interim.
Mayor Patrick Quinn told NGI's Shale Daily that the city council is systematically reviewing the state’s revised oil and gas policies under Senate Bill (SB) 181, and "we're doing everything we can to get these regulations done, so we extended the moratorium. We need to protect the health and safety of our citizens, and we need six more months to do that."
Oil and gas industry officials with the Colorado Petroleum Council (CPC) and Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA) said the unanimous move by Broomfield’s city and county officials was unnecessary given that Colorado earlier in the year passed the comprehensive revisions to energy rules.
Extension of the moratorium is "deeply disappointing," said CPC executive director Lynn Granger. "We are skeptical that the council plans to finalize its proposed regulations in any reasonable amount of time, despite Colorado courts repeatedly striking down municipal moratoriums in recent years.
“We remain hopeful that Broomfield’s new city council will engage in serious, good faith discussions about its energy future as soon as possible. We have stood ready to do the same since SB 181 became law, and we remain committed to doing so...into the foreseeable future.”
COGA CEO Dan Haley called the moratorium "completely unnecessary, since under SB 181 operators need both state and local permits to move ahead. If local sign-off or a local operator agreement in a particular community is still being worked, then development is not going to occur; that's plain and simple.”
In May, Broomfield's city council unanimously passed a temporary ban that expired Wednesday (Dec. 4) to allow time for state regulations to be drafted and for amendments to local government rules to take effect. Superior, Lafayette, Berthoud, Timnath, and Adams counties all took similar actions.
Before SB 181 was signed into law by Gov. Jared Polis, Broomfield officials had directed city and county staff to begin drafting amendments to the local rules.
Broomfield city council members have said the state courts and the U.S. Supreme Court have found locally imposed moratoriums "legally permissible and useful land-use regulation tools" when they are adopted for a "reasonably short" time period to allow effective governmental decision-making.
In 2018, Broomfield officials conditionally approved a 1,500-page comprehensive drilling plan by Denver-based Extraction Oil & Gas Inc. for six well pads, which a spokesperson said at the time was the culmination of two years of effort.