Weld County designates itself local oil and gas control county

GREELEY — Weld County is letting it is recognized that there are a number of options to interpret Senate Bill 181 — Colorado’s sweeping oil and gas laws giving local governments appreciably additional vitality to handle energy extraction.

The Weld commissioners unanimously handed a choice Monday designating the unincorporated parts of the county as a “mineral resource area of state interest.”

Previous dialogue of SB 181 has focused on municipalities that have to tighten restrictions on the oil and gas commerce, nonetheless, commissioners Monday expressed a clear curiosity in making certain the commerce stays a formidable strain in a county that relies upon carefully on mineral extraction for jobs and tax revenues.

“SB 181 changed a lot of things,” said Commissioner Barbara Kirkmeyer all through Monday’s meeting. “We are going to use the additional authority … that was given to us so that we have a fighting chance — so that the men and women in this county have a fighting chance.”

Weld County is answerable for virtually 9 of every 10 barrels of oil produced in Colorado and moreover generates higher than 30 % of the state’s pure gas as a result of the county sits atop the mineral-rich Denver-Julesburg Basin.

The passage of SB 181 this spring reset the regulatory panorama for Colorado’s $30 billion-plus commerce, ending state pre-emption of local efforts to rein in oil and gas operators by the use of elevated setback requirements for wells or moratoriums on new drilling.

Many in opposition to drilling cite well-being issues from spills, explosions, and emissions from rapidly proliferating correctly pads that they actually really feel have been positioned too close to neighborhoods alongside the fast-growing Front Range.

But for areas in Colorado the place oil and gas performs an instrumental place throughout the local monetary system, the contemplating is that SB 181 threatens energy jobs.

Commissioner Sean Conway said totally different counties in Colorado whose monetary fortunes moreover rely on a sturdy oil and gas sector will seemingly be searching for to Weld County “for our leadership” and “guidance” on how one can switch ahead in a post-181 environment.

Whether Weld County’s switch implies that it may attempt to create oil and gas legal guidelines that are a lot much less restrictive than what state laws permits is simply not however recognized. The county will spend the next a variety of weeks making modifications to its code dealing with oil and gas extraction.

Matt Sura, an oil and gas lawyer who represents a variety of Front Range communities, said whereas SB 181 eradicated state pre-emption of local governments over oil and gas factors, the model new laws doesn’t delay the state’s authority over the commerce altogether.

“SB 181 specifically gives local governments the power to go beyond state control but it does not give them the power to be less restrictive than the state,” Sura said.

The look at on that comes inside the kind of twin permits wished from every the state and local authorities sooner than a correctly could possibly be drilled, he said. If the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, the state’s regulatory physique, looks as if Weld is violating state statute in approving correctly permits it could refuse to the topic it’s private enable, he said.

But Bruce Barker, a lawyer for Weld County, disagrees that the county can’t set tips that are a lot much less stringent than the states. Weld County commissioners intention to take care of their legal guidelines the place the state tips are proper this second, he said, nonetheless, will invoke the local control given to them by SB 181 if state regulators tighten legal guidelines over the next yr of rulemaking.

“When the governor said it’s all about local control, he was right,” Barker said.

The commissioners’ listening to the room was packed Monday morning as people spoke, principally in favor of Weld County’s resolution.

“I’m working hard to get rid of the person who brought this horrible SB 181 into effect,” said Renee McGill, a Greeley resident who wore a Recall Polis T-shirt.

Windsor Mayor Kristie Melendez was one amongst a variety of local politicians who spoke sooner than the commissioners, commending them for his or her resolution.

“I steadfastly stand with Weld County — that what is right for Boulder isn’t necessarily right for Weld County,” she said.

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