In a nine-page letter dated Jan. 10, the Attorney General's Office tells El Paso County its proposed regulations over the oil and gas industry go too far.
It's the state's job, not the county's, to oversee such things as water and air quality monitoring and any down-hole issues, the letter says. The General Assembly has vested that authority in the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.
The county wants to impose regulations in preparation of Ultra Petroleum's plans to drill in the city of Colorado Springs and eastern El Paso County.
The state says the county's proposed rules conflict with state law in these areas: setbacks, escavated pits, water quality, wildlife impact, visual impact, noise, lighting and the county's proposed 14-step process for a driller to get approval.
Ultra has called the county's rules "onerous."
The county's rules have been approved by the Planning Commission. County commissioners are due to consider them on Jan. 31.
Commissioner Dennis Hisey tells us this in an e-mail: "Letters from the industry are good starting points to research potential conflicts but I don't take them at face value. I did some additional research through the CCI [Colorado Counties, Inc.] and it appears some of our proposed regs do pose a conflict and if challenged we could expect to lose in court. Probably not as many as industry thinks but given that we want to do this right we need to determine where the boundaries are."
It appears the AG thinks our regulations exceed our authority so that is now a new wrinkle.
Here's the letter: AG_letter.pdf
Meantime, the city's oil and gas committee, headed by Councilman Van Snider, is slated to hold its first meeting Jan. 26, announced in this press release.
The Colorado Springs Oil and Gas Committee will hold its first weekly work session on Jan. 26 from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. at City Hall, 107 N. Nevada Ave. in the Pikes Peak Room on the main floor.
This committee was formed by Council President Scott Hente, who appointed Councilmembers Val Snider to chair the committee, Brandy Williams to serve as Vice Chair and Angela Dougan to serve as the committee’s communications point of contact. Citizen committee members will be announced by Jan. 24, after selection from a large pool of qualified applicants who met the Jan. 12 deadline.
The committee will meet every Thursday starting Jan. 26 and ending in May. These work sessions are to allow the committee members to understand the oil and gas exploration and production processes as well as the state and local regulations. At the end of this process, the committee will provide recommendations to City Council for above ground oil and gas exploration and operations policy/regulations, as appropriate.
All work sessions are open to the public, however public comment will not be taken until March, when the committee will hold separate meetings to solicit public input.