Board of Commissioners Vote to Approve Oil and Gas Regulations

The Board of Commissioners voted 5-0 at public hearing today (September 3, 2019) to adopt a new set of regulations for oil and gas facility development in unincorporated Adams County. The new regulations include the process for applying for an oil and gas facility permit as well as significant regulations regarding safety requirements and environmental standards for operation of facilities.

“Since counties and cities have been given authority over oil and gas development, our staff has been hard at work creating a set of regulations that is fair to the industry but also provides for the safety of our residents,” said Board Chair Steve O’Dorisio. “It’s a tough line to toe, but we think these regulations balance the interests of all parties involved.”

The county’s new regulatory process includes two paths for approval of new oil and gas development. The administrative approval requires adherence to all criteria and standards, including a 1,000-foot setback from occupied buildings including schools and residences. If an application cannot meet all the criteria, including the setback, the applicant can move forward through a public hearing process that could result in a waiver of those requirements.

“We understand that every development application is different,” O’Dorisio said. “And with Adams County having such a diverse geography from urban to rural areas, the hearing process allows us to make exceptions when it makes sense to do so.”

The Board approved a resolution placing a temporary six-month moratorium on new oil and gas development in unincorporated areas of Adams County on March 20 in anticipation of the passage of Senate Bill 19-181 (SB 181). In April, Gov. Jared Polis signed the bill, which increased the ability of local governments to regulate the surface impacts of oil and gas development, including regulation of siting of oil and gas facilities.

In the months since, the county has worked to update its oil and gas regulations to be consistent with new legal authority established by SB181. The goal was to establish regulations that allow for reasonable development of oil and gas in unincorporated Adams County while ensuring that facilities are sited in appropriate areas and utilize best practices to protect the health, safety, and welfare of residents.