From the Longmont Times-Call
Oil, gas issues expected to return in 2016 Colorado Legislature
The issue of giving cities and counties more authority to locally regulate oil and gas drilling and production may resurface in next year’s session of the Colorado Legislature, two Boulder County lawmakers told Boulder County commissioners on Friday morning. Hopes that a special task force convened last year by Gov. John Hickenlooper would recommend such local controls, and the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission’s not-yet-completed consideration of what the task force did recommend, “haven’t worked well,” said State Rep. Mike Foote, D-Lafayette.
Foote said the state agency still appears to want to maintain primary control over where and how wells can be drilled, “instead of telling communities” to “do what you do best” — local regulations that Foote said could recognize the rights of oil and gas companies and property owner’ mineral rights while also recognizing the rights and safety of homeowners in the areas where drilling is to take place.
One of the priorities in Boulder County Commissioners’ 2016 Legislative Agenda is to “support legislation to preserve and expand local government authority to regulate the land-use activities of the oil and gas industry.” During a Friday breakfast meeting with the county commissioners and several of their staff members, State Sen. Matt Jones, D-Louisville, promised the Boulder County officials that “we’re going to keep working” on oil and gas issues in the Legislature. The current state oil and gas regulations and laws allow the state to permit an industrial operation in a residential neighborhood, Jones said. Jones said in an interview after the meeting that it’s still “too soon to say” what form any increased-local-control bills might take.
But he and Foote both indicated they’re thinking about introducing or supporting something that “advances the cause” of local control of oil and gas operations.
Other oil and gas items on the county commissioners’ 2016 legislative agenda include:
• Support for legislation and policies that “address the air and water quality impacts associated with oil and gas operations,”
• Support increasing Colorado’s mineral severance taxes, and pursuing other approaches “to increase state revenues received from the oil and gas industry.”
• Support legislation “to affirm and expand the authority of Colorado counties and municipalities to impose impact and other fees on oil and gas activities.”
• Support legislation that would make several amendments to current laws about the Oil and Gas Conservation Commission’s authorities and responsibilities, including one that would increase that state agency’s oversight over the fracking process.