Ambiguity in Colorado Law Highlighted by Drilling Bans
Governor Bill Ritter in 2009, pushed for sweeping changes to the state regulations on oil and gas. The goal was to provide better protection to public health and the environment from drilling. However, they were not keen at having specified on how much is the authority of the local government in regulating drilling done within its boundaries. This is the main issue at the Colorado Front Ranger where hydraulic fracturing is commonly occurring gin densely populated areas.
One resident living in the area, Jim Kummerow, recalled that he was surprised when he found an oil company, which showed up purposefully to re-frack the well that is sitting near the Rocky Mountain Arsenal, which has already been decommissioned. The said well also happens to be near Kummerow’s subdivision. He said that oil drilling was something which happened a long time ago in the area, even before people came.
Kummerow said that, “I do understand that people want jobs and this is a place to get a job, but at what risk.” He further added that, “The rooftops over there, that one right there, is my house.”
Just last month, the Commerce City passed a time out on fracking, which was good for one-month. This was a result of the pressure exerted by Kummerow and his neighbors. Nearby cities and counties all passed similar moratoriums in order for an overhauling of local zoning regulations.
In a statement given by Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission director, David Neslin, “We don’t believe that local governments have the authority to enact moratoriums.”
Being the chief regulator of the state’s oil and gas drilling, he said that local governments must have the purview only on matters involving dust, traffic, and other local impacts. He further said that, “There is a comprehensive, well established, very rigorous regulatory program at the state level, with a lot of expertise and very experienced staff.”