Category Archives: Local government (city & county)



Some of our members and allied experts have come up with some potential talking points for addressing concerns about O&G location, siting, and setbacks. Your own experiences if you live near such facilities are also critical points of reference in advocating for strong regulation in Larimer County.  

On the use of zoning for control of siting: Can be a useful tool, and provide set expectations for both a property owner and a potential O&G site developer.

A landowner can apply for a change of zoning, and zoning designations tend to be easier to change than set land use regulations. As such, zoning is not as resilient a tool for those concerned about encroachment of O&G in their neighborhood.

Some proposed O&G sites in our region are clearly heavy industrial complexes. Some local jurisdictions have opted to limiting their location to areas zoned as industrial.


On Alternative Location Analysis: Considered in some discussions as one of the most “important and dangerous” tools in a local government’s kit. The idea is for an O&G developer to propose alternative sites with an evaluation of the relative benefits or hazards of any location analyzed for local consideration. This presents the possibility that one of a range of sites may be described as the “safest” and should be approved. But a local government is empowered by SB-181 to deny approval of any application if it does not meet its criteria for safe operation and the protection of public health and the environment.

Some jurisdictions may require a minimum number of alternate siting options, some have no limits. The important thing that should come into play is that whatever site is to be approved, it must meet the local authority’s regulatory standards, and those can be more stringent than State rules. Which ever standards are most protective should apply, whether the State’s or the County’s.


On Setbacks and Reciprocal Setbacks: Although current COGCC regulations call for a 2,000 foot setback from all occupied buildings, other analyses of the effects of O&G development suggest a distance of 2,500 feet is more appropriate. The critical impact of emissions and the nuisance factors of noise, light, and dust are mitigated to some extent by such distancing from active well projects. There are also clear arguments for maintaining that distance from parks and open space, critical drainages, and wildlife habitat.

Reciprocal setbacks, also known informally as reverse setbacks, have to do with the location of new residential or other development near existing oil and gas facilities. Each project goes through different stages during its service life, with varying degrees of risk at each level of development and extraction. During its active phase, the most prudent course would be to maintain the same 2,500 foot setback of construction from the working wellpad.

Concerns about the integrity of any such facility do not cease when the well is finished producing and is shut down. Once a well plugged and abandoned, continued monitoring for potential leaks of methane and other compounds is necessary. Some experts indicate that any new construction in the vicinity should be kept at a minimum of 1,000 feet from the site, and more ranging out to 2,500 feet would be even better. Accidents associated with abandoned wells, while rare, can have catastrophic consequences, and close monitoring to assure against this may require attention for an indefinite period of time.

Special thanks to our friends and allies at LOGIC for their review and recommendations!

Larimer Alliance calls on Larimer County to extend timeline for revision of local Oil & Gas regulations

The following letter was submitted to the Larimer Board of County Commissioners and the Larimer County Planning Department, with copies to the Planning Commission and County Manager.

February 8, 2021

Dear Commissioners and Staff,

We applaud the Larimer County staff and Commissioners Kefalas, Shadduck-McNally and Stevens, and the Larimer County Planning Commissioners for quickly embarking on the process of reviewing and revising the Larimer County oil and gas regulations (and land use code) which were passed in April 2020, but mandated for review after the State completed (Mission Change) rulemaking required by SB19-181.

At the 1-25-21 BOCC Work Session, Mr. Lafferty proposed a process and a timeline of completing revision of County regulations by April 26, 2021 with no plan released for public participation. Mr. Lafferty also indicated that he would release relevant information for the regulation revision on March 10, only six weeks before the April completion deadline. Although Mr. Lafferty recently released a questionnaire and other pertinent information via email to previous contacts involved in the County’s regulation development process, the public deserves a longer time frame for public participation. Review and revision of the County regulations and land use code are likely to be extensive. We ask for a timeline that is sufficient to enable an exchange of information and dialogue. Many areas of the County regulations now fall far below revised State regulations. Indeed, in comparison, the County regulations are weak, unprotective, and do not reflect the goals of the constituents nor the clear intent of SB19-181 to prioritize public health, safety, welfare, the environment and wildlife.  In addition, State law allows local governments to be more protective than State regulations which calls for additional consideration of protective regulatory decisions. 

The County staff, under the previous BOCC, informed the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) that the County would not give input on pending oil and gas facility applications within Larimer County.  Unless the County has communicated a different message to COGCC, this remains the County’s stance on applications being considered by COGCC. Currently COGCC has six applications for well pads, one injection well application, and applications for recompletions.  We want our County to be involved in these applications and all future applications for oil and gas facilities and for recompletions.  We ask that the County communicate to COGCC clarifying this new stance. This request could simply consist of informing the COGCC that the County wishes to take advantage of new COGCC rules, which also give Counties the right to local government consultation for any applications within boundaries and applications within 2000 feet outside their boundaries, (as proximate local governments).

We urge the BOCC to put a moratorium on pending applications at the County level while the County’s regulations are being revised. We ask for a 6-month moratorium.  It would be time and energy intensive for the County staff to be revising the oil and gas regulations while simultaneously working with operators and the COGCC on applications for amending existing locations, recompletions or new locations. We ask that both types of processes be done separately allowing staff to give its full attention first to regulations revision and later to oil and gas facility applications. 

We also urge BOCC to inform the COGCC that Larimer County wants a hold on all pending and future applications for the same length of time as the moratorium. The BOCC can request that the COGCC hold consideration of Form 2 and 2A. and injection well permits pertaining to Larimer County during this timeframe to better preserve Larimer County’s ability to engage in the process and protect its residents and environment.

In sum, we are asking for:

  1. A sufficient timeline for public process:  A public process that allows adequate time for thorough review and revision of Larimer County Oil & Gas regulations.
  1. The County to provide input to the State on all current and future applications: Please tell the COGCC the County is changing its earlier stance and now wants to review and provide input for every pending and new Larimer County oil and gas facility application, including recompletions, effective immediately.
  2. Implementation of a moratorium: We urge the County to put a moratorium on all Oil and Gas applications at the County level for 6-months while the County is revising its regulations.
  3. Request the COGCC to hold pending applications: We urge the BOCC to request COGCC to hold new or pending applications at the State level for the same duration as the County moratorium.

Thank you for your consideration of these requests.

Ed Behan on behalf of Larimer Alliance for Health, Safety & the Environment

Clean Air Champions

During the December 4 board meeting of the Regional Air Quality Commission, the city of Fort Collins was recognized as one of the first recipients of the commission’s Clean Air Champion award.  The city has taken significant steps to reduce emissions by initiating a program to convert the city fleet to electric vehicles as well as replacing mowing equipment with electric machines. 

It is my hope that some of you reading this blog will take the time to send congratulations to Mayor Troxel and city staff for this effort.  In the climate crisis we are now facing, there is no change too big not to be considered; but, likewise, there is no change too small to go without recognition.  We must have a broad perspective that will allow us to perceive all the interconnecting dots.

A significant connection in regards to the city’s admirable work to shift away from vehicles and equipment using internal combustion engines, is the parallel need for the Platte River Power Authority (PRPA) to prepare for 100% renewable sources of energy by 2030 (possibly by 2028 given the recent proposal of the Air Quality Control Commission to move the retirement date for the Rawhide coal-powered plant up by two years).  As long as the electric vehicles and equipment that the city has purchased run on electricity generated by fossil fuels, whether coal or natural gas, the value of that investment is greatly diminished. 

The city of Fort Collins is gaining a reputation for being a leader in addressing climate change, it is critical that the city’s efforts be supported by equally bold action on the part of the PRPA.