Gov. Hickenlooper insists on state drilling regulations

DENVER – Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper is insisting that the state has regulatory authority over natural-gas and oil drilling.

The Denver Post reported Wednesday that Hickenlooper called Boulder County commissioners to his office to try to resolve conflicts over how drilling companies are regulated.

With drilling booming along Colorado’s Front Range, Boulder County is drafting tough new regulations for drilling there – and has refused to process natural-gas and oil drilling applications since February. County officials told Hickenlooper at a Tuesday meeting they must respect their constituents’ concerns about drilling.

The state has challenged Longmont’s authority to ban drilling, and Hickenlooper wants to avoid a mish-mash of local drilling rules.

“How are we going to keep these sorts of operations from disrupting our communities?” Boulder Commissioner Will Toor asked.

“We’ve been through this with a number of different counties,” Hickenlooper said. “We can still get there without having to go to court.”

The Boulder County regulations would cover truck damage to roads, air and water monitoring, and setbacks from homes. Planning manager Kim Sanchez said the county was consulting with business and the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.

Commission director Matt Lepore said a county requirement for “no significant degradation” by drilling companies “seems a little vague.”

“That’s a general area of concern,” Lepore said.

The state commission is studying whether to require groundwater testing by companies before drilling and larger buffer zones between wells and homes, schools and hospitals.