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Planners to review proposed changes to Jeffco oil and gas rules

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By Sandy Barnes

The Jeffco Planning and Zoning Commission was scheduled to review proposed changes to the county’s oil and gas regulations at its Aug. 27 meeting.

The proposed changes would add planned-development and special-use zoning to Section 35 of the county resolution, which sets standards for the drilling and production of oil and gas.

The amended resolution also would align current setback requirements for oil and gas operations with those of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.

The current Jeffco standard calls for drilling operations to be at least 600 feet from homes, schools and churches. However, the state oil and gas commission requires a 500-foot setback for building units and a 1,000-foot setback for high-occupancy buildings, including schools, day-care centers, hospitals, nursing homes and correctional facilities, without commission approval and a public hearing. 

The proposed changes to the Jeffco resolution also delete the current county requirement for a 100-foot setback from public roadways. And the word “noises” has been stricken from the section of the county resolution requiring that noxious odors, fluids, gases, dust or glare be confined to the parcel on which oil and gas operations are permitted.

“With all the discussion statewide concerning fracking and oil and gas exploration, Planning and Zoning is making a recommendation that Jeffco update their regulations to be consistent with state regulations and Colorado Oil and Gas Commission regulations,” said Jeffco Commissioner Don Rosier.

Rosier said that while working as a civil engineer six years ago, he was part of an advance team of scientists and engineers that developed a water treatment and reuse system for flow-back and other water from oil and gas fields.

Rosier said his current full-time job is as a county commissioner, and that he no longer is working with oil and gas companies.

“I haven’t worked for, or received compensation, from any activities outside of being commissioner,” said Rosier.

“As a fifth-generation Coloradan and a Jeffco native, I know how precious every drop of water is in Colorado,” Rosier remarked. “As such, I have spent a considerable amount of time working with industry leaders from around the world on how to reuse water in the oil and gas fields, for residential properties, commercial operations and in agriculture.”

However, Rosier and Jeffco Commissioner Faye Griffin were among 150 elected officials who signed an open letter sent to state leaders this past March that supported state regulation of the oil and gas industry.

The letter stated: “Cities and counties across Colorado do not have adequate budgets in place, nor have we developed the in-house expertise to take over state regulation of oil and gas activities within our jurisdictions. Attempts to end Colorado’s statewide approach to energy regulation would invite more politics into our energy policy, at a time when there is too much already, inevitably triggering regulatory chaos that chases energy investment to the many states that have embraced a balanced approach to energy development.”

Jeffco planner Patrick O’Connell, who has been working on the proposed changes to the resolution, said that there is currently little interest in oil and gas development in Jefferson County.

 

Contact Sandy Barnes at sandy@evergreenco.com.