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BOCC clarifies its oil and gas regulations

In January, the El Paso County Board of County Commissioners passed its own regulations governing oil and gas development in the county. The regulations include several areas: transportation analysis and mitigation; an emergency response plan; noxious weed control and mitigation; and water quality assessment and sampling.At a March meeting the board passed a resolution to amend section 5.3.2 of the Land Development Code to reflect the approved regulations, said William Louis, county attorney. The amended section has five standards that applicants must meet before an oil and gas permit is issued. Louis presented the five standards:

  • The applicant must have a permit issued by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.
  • The applicant must supply the transportation impact analysis per county regulations.
  • The applicant must supply the emergency response plan per county regulations.
  • The applicant must supply the noxious weed control and mitigation plan per county regulations.
  • The applicant must supply a water quality testing plan per county regulations.
Louis said the water quality testing standard is an enhanced version of the COGCC requirements and includes baseline testing prior to drilling; one post-drilling test in years one to three; and results of the testing must be put into a database that is publicly accessible via the Internet, Louis said.The oil and gas industry and the COGCC are currently in discussions about the enhanced testing standards, Louis said.The county commissioners authorized a newly-appointed local government designee, Diana May, to begin working with the COGCC to develop an intergovernmental agreement, Louis said. The IGA will have to be approved by both the COGCC and the BOCC through their respective public processes, he said.Once the COGCC and the BOCC reach an agreement, the BOCC can start modifying or rescinding section 5.3.2 to be in line with the IGA, Louis said.A Houston-based company, Ultra Resources, has at least six permits approved by the state and has applied for permits in El Paso County.Louis said the development services director will be able to either elevate a permit to the public hearing process or deny a permit based on noncompliance with the regulations. ìThe development services director must have a clear and convincing reason and must confer with the county attorney and the county administrator before that can happen,î he said.Mark Gebhart, Land Development Code manager, presented a revised version of the application form the county can use to determine an applicantís compliance with all requirements.ìThis form will most likely evolve, Gebhart said. ìIf it doesn’t meet the needs of the industry or the board Ö we can administratively make modifications to it.î

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