Fort Collins to vote on oil drilling moratorium

The Fort Collins City Council will consider a moratorium on oil and gas drilling at its meeting Tuesday night after a similar ban failed earlier this year.

Councilors will mull a range of options at their meeting, including passing the first reading of an ordinance on oil and gas regulations as well as the moratorium.

Councilman Gerry Horak said the possibility of City Council passing a moratorium that would last until June was “highly likely.”

Horak explained that Black Diamond Minerals, which operates the only oil field in Fort Collins, was “amenable” to the moratorium as the city works out a drilling agreement with the company.

A moratorium would give the city time to adjust to any regulations passed by the Legislature.

The proposed ban comes as the state considers new rules on distances between wells and buildings and groundwater testing standards.

Matthew Lepore, the executive director of the state Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, has signaled that the city should consider carefully its proposed regulations as the state weighs its own rules.

“(Lepore) basically said that he thinks there needs to be more study on the regulations we’re looking at,´ said Horak, who recently talked on the phone with the state’s oil and gas chief.

Similarly, Loveland city councilors Tuesday night will consider a two-month extension on their city’s moratorium on oil and gas drilling.

The city cited new regulations that it expects the state will pass by early January as reasons to potentially extend its temporary drilling ban from February to April.

In May, Loveland City Council passed an emergency moratorium barring applications for oil and gas development as it sought to develop drilling regulations.

A similar drilling ban failed in Fort Collins when councilors cast a split vote on the proposal in June.

Another option that Fort Collins councilors will consider Tuesday night’s meeting includes giving preliminary approval to an ordinance regulating drilling. The ordinance outlines two approaches for approval of drilling permits: a “standard” review that tends to follow state law, but which takes longer, and a faster review with stricter requirements.

A third option involves councilors giving preliminary approval to an ordinance that requires companies to adopt the stricter standards.

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