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Background
History
The Denver metropolitan area sits atop the Denver-Julesburg Basin, a geologic formation that is home to rich natural resources. Commerce City is located at the southeast corner of the Niobrara Shale, a promising discovery within the basin.

The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission estimates:
  • Colorado has roughly 25,700 active wells distributed throughout the state.
  • An additional 40,000 wells are plugged and abandoned.
  • Two-thirds of Colorado counties have wells located in them, with 30% of counties having at least two hundred wells.
  • Weld County has the most wells, at over 10,000 (40%).

Commerce City's Natural Supply
There are numerous permitted oil and gas well sites within and adjacent to Commerce City. Many of the wells have been established since the late 1970s. Commerce City first adopted land use regulations to oversee oil and gas development in 2009.

Regulatory Oversight
Colorado, like all other western states, recognizes separate ownership of surface and the mineral rights and the distinct private property rights associated with each. Often, different parties own the surface rights versus the subsurface rights. Colorado law recognizes that access to the mineral rights from the surface is necessary in order to develop the mineral interest. 

The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) is a state regulatory agency created by the Colorado General Assembly to promote development of the oil and gas resources throughout the state and provide protection of public health, safety, and welfare. The COGCC reviews applications and issues permits; sets rules and regulations to govern industry and ensures compliance.

Commerce City Community Engagement
City Council convened an oil and gas land use committee in 2011 to study the impacts of and assess the risks of oil and gas development within the city. The group was also charged with determining potential changes to the land development code and provide a written consensus recommendation. The 13-member panel included residents, council members, interest groups, industry and regulatory agencies. The group met six times over the course of two months in public, televised sessions

The city used committee feedback to revise to the land development code and draft an extraction agreement that was presented for public comment during a series of open houses.