Colorado is well-known for its natural resources and history of oil and gas exploration. Like other local governments, Commerce City strives to balance municipal growth and development with the needs of industry. The city's land development code and participation in the state's local government designee program offers a layered approach to protect the interests of the community and the rights of private developers.
In Colorado, oil and gas development is regulated by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC), a division of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources. COGCC manages all below-ground aspects of oil and gas drilling and handles the state permitting process. Permit applications must be submitted to COGCC and approved before any city permits can be issued or any activity occurs on a drilling site. Learn more about the COGCC regulatory process
Recent oil and gas application activity
The city’s role in regulating oil and gas development involves the surface-level activities related to drilling within Commerce City limits. The land development code (LDC) requires any potential well operator to obtain an oil & gas permit and execute an extraction agreement with the city prior to any operations taking place. The LDC also regulates plugging and abandonment of existing well sites in the city.
- Model Extraction Agreement
- Development Review (Article III)
- Uses and Accessory Structures (Article V)
Best Management Practices
Since oil and gas is regulated primarily at the state level, the city cannot set regulations that conflict with state law. However, the city can negotiate with operators to determine Best Management Practices (BMPs) that can exceed requirements set by the COGCC, since these are agreed upon with the operator and not mandated by city regulations. These BMPs can be included in documents such as a Regional Operator Agreement and/or an Extraction Agreement.
In recent months, city staff has been in negotiations with Extraction Oil & Gas on BMPs that will be included in a Regional Operator Agreement applying to Extraction’s sites within the city. A draft of the current BMP document is available for public review below. To comment on the BMPs, follow the link to the oil and gas public comment form in the section below.
Oil and Gas Open House - Dec. 6, 2018
Around 90 members of the public attended an open house offering information about the new oil and gas development proposed to occur in Commerce City in the coming years on Thursday, Dec. 6. A series of stations provided details on a wide range of topics related to oil and gas activity.
City staff shared information on proposed well pad locations, measures the city will require to address health, safety and quality of life concerns (the BMPs discussed above), and the city’s oil and gas permitting process. Staff also answered questions and collected public comments. Representatives from Extraction Oil and Gas (the operator applying to conduct most of the new operations in the city) attended to explain their processes and operations.
If you were unable to attend the Open House, public comments can still be submitted online.
Updating City Regulations
An ordinance (#2183) making minor amendments to the oil and gas regulations in the LDC was approved by city council at the November 19, 2018 meeting. The amendments are limited in scope to clarify and reorganize city regulations (including grammatical revisions) and avoid potential conflict with state law. In addition to these minor updates, more policy-oriented additional changes to the city's regulations are expected at a later date.
Renewed Industry Interest
In spring 2018, interest in oil and gas development in the city began increasing significantly and a large number of new permit applications were submitted to the COGCC. This recent change has sparked a citywide conversation among residents, city council and staff, and industry representatives.
Updates on oil and gas activity and presentations from subject matter experts are being featured regularly at city council meetings, usually on the third Monday of each month.
How to Stay Informed
- View our Oil and Gas Application Activity page for a list of current permit applications with the city and the COGCC.
- Sign up to receive the weekly City Manager's update, which contains the latest information about oil and gas activity each week, or review previous weekly updates.
- Attend city council meetings, especially on the third Monday of each month, when regular oil and gas updates and presentations from subject matter experts are typically given (find updated agendas here).
- Oil and gas speaker series guests:
- July 16 - Julie Murphy, Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission
- Sept. 10 - Sean Hackett, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment
- Oct. 15 - Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge
- Nov. and Dec. - Speaker series breaking for the holidays
- Oil and gas speaker series guests:
- Watch live and archived council meetings on our video page. Prominent discussions about oil and gas from recent meetings are noted below:
- May 21, 2018 – staff presentation and citizen communication (discussion starts at 0:09:15 on the video)
- June 4, 2018 – citizen communication and council discussion of a proposed a six-month moratorium on new oil and gas activity (discussion starts at 1:13:35 on the video)
- July 16, 2018 – monthly update and first speaker series presentation from COGCC Director Julie Murphy (starts at 1:22:05 on the video)
- Sept. 10, 2018 - oil and gas study session with presentations from the Colorado Oil & Gas Association (COGA) and North Range Concerned Citizens, along with a speaker series guest from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) and city staff's monthly oil and gas update for council.
- Oct. 15, 2018 - First reading of ordinance 2183, making minor amendments to the city's oil and gas regulations (starts at 2:23:20)
- Nov. 19, 2018 - Citizen communication (starts at 0:31:25) and second reading of ordinance 2183, making minor amendments to the city's oil and gas regulations (starts at 1:25:40)
Oil & Gas and Your Health (Information from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment)