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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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
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
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
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