As predicted, the Colorado Senate Local Government Committee Thursday voted 4-1 to reject a proposal to prevent local governments from regulating oil/gas drilling activity in their jurisdictions.
The lawmakers decided the measure (SB 88) would have removed the ability of cities and towns to use their land-use and zoning regulations to control energy development in their areas. An official with the Colorado Counties Inc. (CCI) representing the county jurisdictions had told NGI's Shale Daily earlier that the measure likely would be killed in committee so discussions can resume outside of the legislative arena for resolving the state-local stalemate centered on the industry's use of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) (see Shale Daily, Feb. 15).
In recent months, at least two cities have passed ordinances banning fracking until local rules for it can be established, prompting SB 88 to be proposed as a way to reiterate that the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) has jurisdiction to oversee the practice by oil/gas exploration and production (E&P) companies.
Under SB 88, COGCC would have been granted clearly exclusive powers related to oil/gas development in the state. Now the local governments through CCI and the Municipal League can attempt to work out a balanced approach with the oil/gas industry and COGCC, according to the CCI official.
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. Other cities, such are Erie and Aurora, CO, are reportedly considering new controls.
Work toward a compromise was hinted at by Gov. John Hickenlooper in his state of the state address last month (see Shale Daily, Jan. 17).