Agreements carved out by the small Front Range Colorado town of Erie have added to the state’s rules covering hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and could serve as a model for other local jurisdictions. The state, however, maintains the exclusive right of enforcement.
Memoranda of understanding (MOU) inked separately by Encana Oil & Gas Co. and Anadarko Petroleum Corp. with Erie officials, include several best management practices mutually agreed to with city officials and incorporated into state permitting requirements for new wells (see Daily GPI, Sept. 4).
Matt Lepore, the head of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC), which is responsible for overseeing fracking, has said the Erie-type agreements could grow around the state, according to a report Thursday in the Denver Post. The president of the Colorado Oil & Gas Association (COGA) took a more cautious approach to what Erie has done, the Post report said.
“Wide use of MOUs could create a tricky patchwork of operating conditions and so COGA still emphasizes and encourages jurisdictions to work through the state system and local government designee process,” said COGA President Tisha Schuller. “MOUs are a private agreement between companies and local jurisdictions, and therefore COGA doesn’t take a position on them. We have seen in both Longmont [CO] and Erie that this solution represents a good compromise which addresses the interests of the local government without infringing on state primacy.”
The Erie agreements are being examined for provisions that call for:
State officials are contrasting the approach taken by Erie and other municipalities around the state that have imposed moratoria, rules and proposed local regulations for fracking. While Erie has received praise, a tough stance earlier this year by Longmont, CO drew criticism.
Longmont’s city council in July approved by a 5-2 vote a ban on drilling operations in residential areas (see Daily GPI, Aug. 17). Included in the rules is a fracking ban, along with groundwater monitoring rules and stream setback regulations. Wildlife protections also are included.
Three days after the city council affirmed the rules, the COGCC voted to pursue a lawsuit to get a “clearer sense” of whether the state or local officials had authority over energy operations, according to Colorado Department of Natural Resources Director John King.
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