City continues to pursue oil and gas protections for residents
Public comment opportunities to precede any agreements or permit approvals
Since oil and gas operators announced their intention to drill new wells in Commerce City last spring, city council and staff have continually been involved in robust conversations with residents, industry representatives and other groups about how to best manage the proposed activity. Oil and gas development is regulated primarily at the state level in Colorado, meaning the city cannot prohibit oil and gas operations or generally set more restrictive rules than those in state law. However, the city can negotiate with operators on agreements that minimize impacts and maximize protections for residents.
City staff is negotiating with Extraction Oil & Gas, LLC (the operator proposing most of the new well pads in the city) to develop a series of standards known as Best Management Practices, or BMPs, to address residents’ health, safety, quality of life and environmental concerns. The BMPs cover a range of topics, such as air and water quality, noise reduction, inspections, emergency management and others. In many cases, the standards being proposed in the BMPs go beyond those required by state law.
The BMPs are being negotiated as part of a regional operator agreement applying to all of Extraction’s drilling sites within the city. City Council has been consulted on the progress of these conversations through executive sessions, which are held privately with only staff in order to avoid compromising the city’s negotiating position and allow council to receive legal advice. Once the sides tentatively agree on a draft version of the operator agreement, it will be open for a 21-day public comment period. All resident feedback will be reviewed and considered before any agreement is signed.
While the operator agreement is a voluntary negotiating process, Extraction Oil & Gas is separately required to work through two additional city processes for each individual well pad site: acquiring a city oil and gas permit and negotiating an extraction agreement setting specific terms for each location. These steps include more opportunities for public feedback, including neighborhood meetings for each individual well pad.
All of these city processes are held independently from the state permitting process, which is conducted by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC). The COGCC has not yet approved any permit applications for new drilling sites in Commerce City. For the applications that are pending, the city has asked that a second public comment period be held to allow more feedback from residents. The city is also in the process of forming an Oil and Gas Focus Group allowing residents to provide input on proposed state legislation and rulemaking, as well as city regulations. More information about the focus group is available online at c3gov.com/boards.
To find a list of proposed well pad locations, see the draft BMPs, learn more about future public comment opportunities and find out how to stay informed about oil and gas in the city, visit c3gov.com/OilGas.