Drilling companies would be taxed up to $6.90 per barrel, $0.88 per Mcf for hydrocarbons extracted within Boulder city limits

From the Boulder Daily Camera

Boulder’s City Council wasted little time Tuesday night in advancing two measures aimed at potential oil and gas drilling, including a pollution tax on any future extraction and a statement condemning an industry-backed ballot initiative. Both items, on the consent agenda, were discussed only briefly.

The pollution tax would be levied against drillers: up to $6.90 per barrel of oil and 88 cents per thousand cubic feet of natural gas. The tax would apply only to resources extracted within city limits; there is currently no expressed interest or plans for such projects, and Boulder has a timeout on applications in place through June 2020.

Councilwoman Cindy Carlisle was the only council member to speak about the tax, calling out statements made by industry group Colorado Oil and Gas Association in opposition. In remarks to the Camera, the group’s head Dan Haley called the measure a tax increase; Carlisle clarified that it was not a tax on citizens, but on drillers.

“The industry has used this ploy before,” she said.

The intent of the tax is to pay for any social and health impacts of drilling. City staff has asserted that such costs far exceed the current sales price of oil and gas.

Council voted unanimously to advance the tax, and to make a formal statement opposing ballot initiative 108, which would require local and state governments to compensate private property owners for any law, ordinance or regulation that reduces the fair market value of property.

Mayor Suzanne Jones brought the measure forward, calling it a dangerous, sweeping change to the Colorado Constitution that, if passed, would subject the city to lawsuits over “anything it did or anything it didn’t do,” as Jones said.

Although supported by the oil and gas industry, the change would have broad implications on real estate development as well, experts have said. It includes no exemptions for nuisance activity or public health and safety.

Mayor Pro Tem Aaron Brockett was the only council member, other than Jones, to comment on Initiative 108, urging members of the public to vote against it in the fall. Organizers of the ballot initiative turned in signatures last week; they are still in the process of being verified.


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