From the DailyCamera

The Lafayette City Council on Tuesday night gave initial approval to extending by three months a moratorium on the submission or approval of applications for oil and gas operations in city limits.

The council unanimously passed an ordinance on first reading to extend the moratorium until Aug. 18. The council will have to pass the ordinance again at a future meeting for it to take effect. Council members engaged in minimal discussion before passing the measure and moving on to the next agenda item.

City Council has not scheduled a second reading for the moratorium.

The moratorium, which is set to expire on May 18, prolongs a controversial six-month ban the council passed in November.

Officials say the extended stay on new oil and gas applications will give the city more time to weigh citizen feedback on its proposed drilling regulations slated for council vote in the coming weeks. The proposed regulations require drilling maps, mitigation efforts on air and nearby water quality and potential stipulations on number of wells at a given site.

Despite its approval in November, the measure was not met with enthusiasm by anti-drilling activists, who say that it amounts to doing business with oil and gas companies.

Activists have said the drilling stay and pursuit of new regulations would conflict with the city’s current Climate Bill of Rights, passed last year, and have threatened the city with litigation if it moved forward on the regulations.

An official with the industry trade group Colorado Oil and Gas Association warned city officials in September that the moratorium could lead to legal challenges that would be paid for by taxpayers.

The expiration of Boulder County’s five-year drilling moratorium last year has opened the doors for a flood of oil and gas plans aimed at hundreds of acres of open space.

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