GREELEY — The Weld County Board of Commissioners has approved the first reading of a new code regulating the location of oil and gas pipelines in the county. The code was developed in negotiations over the past year between the Weld County Oil and Gas Energy Department and the oil and gas industry.
A press statement from Weld County said that among the changes in the new code is a shift of authority over approval of pipeline permits from the Department of Planning Services to the Oil and Gas Energy Department. Other changes center on implementing and improving best management practices to ensure that pipelines respect landowner rights as well as the environment.
“There’s a possibility that the pipelines we deal with are regulated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission or the Colorado Public Utilities Commission, but there is also the possibility that they are not, in which case we would be the only jurisdiction issuing a permit,” said OGED Director Jason Maxey. “We want to allow those companies regulated by other agencies to submit the same information to us, as well as provide clear steps to those with pipelines not regulated by other agencies on how they can meet safety standards to obtain a permit with Weld County.”
While the OGED has been ensuring pipeline permits it has granted since 2019 have met both safety and environmental standards, Maxey said meeting with oil and gas representatives over the past year has allowed the OGED to look at the approval process and eliminate redundancies while adding or reemphasizing standards to strengthen the permitting process. There are no changes affecting width requirements or mapping requirements, but some of the changes, as listed by the county, include:
- Submitting copies of pre-commissioning tests to the OGED. For pipelines not regulated federally or by the state, the applicant must submit annual patrol reports.
- A greater emphasis on best management practices for pipeline installation and assurance that during the installation process, plans will be implemented to minimize adverse impacts to the surrounding environment.
“Our LAP process is an important piece of protecting health, safety and welfare of the public and environment,” Weld County Commissioner Steve Moreno said in the press statement. “It’s also important to be sure it’s a process that can be met without undue burden on those seeking permits. One way to do that is to get feedback from the energy industry, which we’ve done and will continue to do throughout this process.”
Before changes are final, they must pass second reading on Jan. 10 and a third reading on Jan. 31.
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