Moratoriums draw fire from oil industry

Fort Collins’ and Loveland’s decisions to pass drilling moratoriums drew criticism Wednesday from the Colorado Oil & Gas Association. 

“We are disappointed that the councils are moving quickly without all the relevant information,” association President Tisha Conoly Schuller wrote in an email.
“We look forward to engaging with them to talk about Colorado’s comprehensive oil and gas rules and our industry’s commitment to responsible local energy development,” she said.

Loveland city councilors passed a nine-month moratorium on oil and natural-gas development Tuesday evening, while the Fort Collins City Council gave preliminary approval to its own temporary drilling ban.

Loveland’s moratorium, passed as an emergency ordinance, takes effect immediately and lasts until Feb. 16. The drilling ban means the city will not accept any applications for oil and gas development.

Cities throughout the Front Range, including Erie, Longmont and Boulder, have passed similar moratoriums.

Loveland’s ban follows requests by Centerra residents that the city enact a ban to prevent drilling in the area by Anadarko Petroleum Corp.

Mayor Cecil Gutierrez said he voted for the moratorium because the city lacks drilling regulations and because residents have expressed concern about the potential for oil and gas wells to be located near their homes.

“I personally don’t want an oil well sitting in my backyard,” Gutierrez. “I would say that probably most people wouldn’t want an oil well sitting in their backyard.”

“I think we need to have some input on where those wells are located,” he added.

Fort Collins councilors passed the first reading of their own ordinance establishing an eight-month moratorium on oil and gas drilling applications Tuesday night. Oil and gas companies want to develop minerals at Meadow Springs Ranch and Soapstone Prairie Natural Area.

If approved, the ordinance would take effect June 15 and last until Feb. 15.

The moratorium may expire sooner if the city can more quickly complete a review to determine the most appropriate oil and gas drilling regulations, said Karen Cumbo, director of planning development and transportation.

The city has not updated regulations related to drilling for years, Cumbo said. Staffers will review issues such as access roads, flood-plains, buffers, noise and water and air quality.

“We really don’t have much of a process in place to deal with it,” she said. “Nor do our land-use regs really reflect both the current industry technology or current public concerns about it.”

Councilors will decide June 5 whether to finally pass the moratorium.

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