Parker adopts oil and gas regulations

Castle Rock, Douglas County to draft local rules

Posted 7/25/11

Interest in drilling oil from the Niobrara oil formation that reaches under Douglas County prompted local government agencies to begin the process of …

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Parker adopts oil and gas regulations

Castle Rock, Douglas County to draft local rules

Posted

Interest in drilling oil from the Niobrara oil formation that reaches under Douglas County prompted local government agencies to begin the process of drafting regulations for oil industry operations.

Parker is the first among Douglas County agencies to adopt regulations for oil and gas drilling. Parker Town Council on July 18 approved on second reading its new use by special review requirements for oil and gas operations in town limits.

The regulations were drafted in response to inquiries in mid-March from oil and gas operators to lease town property on the Norton Farms open space parcel north of Cottonwood for the possible drilling of oil and gas, said Elise Penington, Parker community affairs director.

Douglas County in early June received its first inquiry for drilling operations in unincorporated Douglas County on a parcel of land south of Wolfensberger Road and just west of the Castle Rock town boundary. Castle Rock reported an inquiry for drilling operations on the Hazen/Moore property on Front Street, south of Blackfeather and the Metzler Park area, said Bill Detweiler, Castle Rock director of development services.

Detweiler’s team on July 12 gained approval from town council to move forward with writing local regulations that deal with land-use issues for drilling operations.

The Town of Parker’s regulations are limited to land-use impacts, including road impacts, screening, environmental issues, geologic hazards, floodplains, wildlife, noise, reclamation, erosion and drainage.

Parker’s ordinance acknowledges that any permit to drill issued by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission will be binding if Parker’s regulations conflict with any operational requirements at the state level.

Parker’s regulations require that drilling operators comply with state and federal environmental requirements for water quality, air quality and waste disposal. Federal and state regulations apply for geologic hazards and floodplain location restrictions.

According to the ordinance, the operator must submit a plan for hours of operation and erect landscaping buffers or adopt other noise-abatement measures if the noise exceeds the town’s existing permissible noise levels.

For wildlife protection, the operator is required to consult with the division of wildlife and comply with its mitigation recommendations if the operation is within or adjacent to a wildlife or natural area.

Regulations that address the technical aspects of drilling operations are beyond the reach of local agencies and mandated by state and federal regulations, Penington said.

Early research at Castle Rock reflects the ability of local agencies to regulate the industry is limited to regulations that could impact areas such as noise, traffic, site conditions and hours of operation, Detweiler said.

All other permitting processes for the industry are managed through the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, which, in the first quarter of 2011, issued 1,099 drilling permits in Colorado, according to the commission’s website. Most of those permits were issued in Weld, Garfield and Mesa counties.

The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission has received no drilling permit requests for Douglas County but has received two drilling unit applications, the first step after an operator has secured access to mineral rights, said David Neslin, director of the state conservation commission.

When it comes to local regulations, state and federal permitting regulations supersede local regulations, said Sandy Vossler, Castle Rock development services planner. Any regulations drafted by local agencies cannot interfere with the ability of the oil companies to access their target product.

“Municipalities and local governments can set regulations but none that will impede reaching the oil and gas or extracting oil and gas,” Vossler said. “Any such regulations would be pre-empted by state and fed regulations.”

View a copy of Parker’s oil and gas regulations at www.parkeronline.org. View a copy of Castle Rock’s staff report at www.crgov.com.

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