Monday, May 23, 2016

After the Colorado Supreme Court fracking decisions, local governments try new ways to fight on

As I noted in an earlier post, the two Colorado fracking decisions that came down this month seem to provide local governments some wiggle room for regulating fracking.  The decisions seem to indicate that local governments cannot do a ban, and that a five-year moratorium is more like a prohibited ban than a permitted local land use control.  So, what about a two-year moratorium?  Or a six-month moratorium?  Or a one year moratorium where you employ some experts to do studies?  This seems to be the new frontier in Colorado.  From NGI Shale Daily (via Jamie Baker Roskie):

Reacting to a recent Colorado Supreme Court ruling, Boulder County commissioners on Thursday imposed a new six-month moratorium on hydraulic fracturing (fracking) after lifting a four-year prohibition that had been in place for unincorporated portions of the county. The ban will last through Nov. 18.

On May 2, Colorado's high court struck down a ban and moratorium on fracking by the cities of Longmont and Fort Collins, respectively, siding with the oil/natural gas industry and affirming that the local government actions were preempted by state law making them invalid and unenforceable (see Shale Daily, May 3).

Boulder County elected officials lifted their "timeout" on accepting and processing new oil/gas development applications, which was to be effective through July 1, 2018, replacing it with the six-month ban, which they said was needed to take public comments and adopt updates to the county's land-use and environmental regulations covering oil/gas operations.

Officials said their actions were prompted by the state Supreme Court ruling against local bans. The county's ban goes back to 2012 and has been extended several times (see Shale Daily, June 21, 2013).

Colorado Oil and Gas Association CEO Dan Haley was somewhat skeptical about the county action, noting “only Boulder County ends a moratorium by creating a brand new one; [it] has had years to consider new rules and regulations, but has failed to do so.

“We will watch carefully to see if the county is sincere in enacting oil/gas regulations within the context of the recent Supreme Court ruling, or if this is just a ploy to extend their previous moratorium and it's business as usual.” Haley, said he encourages the county to work with the state and industry as it drafts new and updated land-use regulations and holds public hearings before their final adoption.

Rest of the story here.

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