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

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