El Paso County commissioners adopted oil and gas regulations in early 2012. While they at first insisted on retaining authority over water quality, they backed off after the Colorado Attorney General's Office muscled in to say oil and gas rules fall under the state's jurisdiction.
The state also maintains the county's original proposal conflicts with state law in addressing setback distance, excavated pits, wildlife impact and more. The county appointed a representative to work closely with the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to iron out those areas while ceding authority to the state.
In Colorado Springs, a City Council task force studied oil and gas regulations within city limits for a year before defeating a proposal March 12 on a 4-4 vote. But in mid-April, Council was reconstituted, and several of the newly elected members have expressed support for the industry. Council President Keith King tells the Independent via e-mail that there is "no formal schedule on the oil and gas regulations."
New regs actually may not have much practical effect given the findings of Ultra Petroleum, which owns 18,000 acres on the city's east side. In a year-end earnings call, the Houston company labeled the results of its exploration "disappointing," leading CEO and president Michael Watford to say Ultra has "no immediate plans for additional exploration" here. Another Houston-based company, Hilcorp Energy, has yet to release results from its exploration.
Taking no chances, a grassroots group, Colorado Springs Citizens for Community Rights, has filed suit against the city ("City fields fracking suit," Noted, May 15) in its effort to get a fracking ban in front of local voters, à la Longmont and Fort Collins. CSCCR has led the effort to bring Josh Fox, and his Gasland Part II advance screening, to the Springs.
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