Adams County works towards oil and gas rules

County to propose amendments in accordance with new state standards

Liam Adams
ladams@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 3/22/21

Adams County kicked off a process to update its oil and gas regulations that will conclude with a Board of Commissioners vote in July. The county will recommend to the board a series of major text …

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Adams County works towards oil and gas rules

County to propose amendments in accordance with new state standards

Posted

Adams County kicked off a process to update its oil and gas regulations that will conclude with a Board of Commissioners vote in July.

The county will recommend to the board a series of major text amendments, including a minimum setback distance and a water and wildlife protection plan, among others. The amendments follow new state regulations the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) approved in November.

Commissioners discussed the text amendments briefly at a March 16 study session, saying they wanted to wait for a future study session to have a more robust discussion. In the coming months, the county will solicit public comments through remote means and in stakeholder meetings and then draft formal amendments. There will be another board study session and planning commission public hearing before commissioners vote on the amendments in a public hearing.

Greg Dean, the county’s oil and gas liaison commented at the March 16 study session, “I already have been told that the rules are too strict and not strict enough, and we haven’t even released the draft language yet.”

Three of the county’s major oil and gas regulations — setbacks, cumulative impacts and community outreach — do not meet new state standards, explained Dean. In addition to updating those three, the county will be revising other regulations and in a couple of cases, exceeding state standards.

County staff will also be proposing eight new impact plans for dust, odor, lighting, water and wildlife protection, community outreach, traffic and transportation, noise mitigation and cumulative impacts. The dust mitigation plan, for example, would place restrictions on construction vehicles’ speed and construction on high wind days. The community outreach plan would require the county to improve communication to communities disproportionately impacted by drilling through neighborhood meetings.

In September 2019, Adams County Commissioners approved a series of oil and gas regulations that, at the time, were stricter than some state regulations. The commissioners, for example, approved a 1,000-foot minimum setback for oil wells from residences, schools and environmentally sensitive areas when the state required a 500-foot setback. Industry proponents were highly critical of commissioners. Then, last year, COGCC approved a series of statewide regulations, including a 2,000-foot minimum setback, tightening the requirement from even that of Adams County. Local governments can only pass stricter regulations from the new state standards, not less restrictive.

Though some of the county’s proposed text amendments are expected due to new state standards, they will be a big deal. For that reason, Board Chairperson Eva Henry said she was puzzled that she hasn’t heard from many community members about the regulations yet. She said, “I haven’t heard from either the industry or our residents. It’s eerily quiet for me.”

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