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With Moratorium Set To End, Could Fracking Come To Boulder County?

Brett Rindt
Flickr - Creative Commons

The future of oil and gas drilling in unincorporated Boulder County is being debated.

Since 2012, the county has had a temporary moratorium on any new oil and gas drilling permits. But that moratorium runs out on Jan. 1, 2015.

Boulder County encompasses communities that have banned drilling. Both Longmont and Lafayette are currently fighting the constitutionality of their bans in court after a judge threw them out.

With the county’s moratorium set to expire, the future of the hundreds of acres of unincorporated open space lies with three women.

"Boulder County is not Weld County."

Elise Jones, one of the three Boulder County Commissioners who will decide if the moratorium should be extended, said the purpose of the public meeting on Nov. 10 is to hear from community stakeholders and mineral owners. The meeting is the last time public input will be heard, and Jones expects it to go until midnight.

The decision commissioners have in front of them includes "the option to let the moratorium lapse, or to extend it for whatever duration we think is appropriate," Jones said. If the moratorium is not extended, energy companies could apply to drill in Boulder County as soon as Jan. 2, 2015.

Following the public input meeting on Nov. 10, a public meeting has been scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 13 at 9:30 a.m. in the Commissioners’ Hearing Room for deliberation and the vote. No further public comment will be taken at that time.

In an interview that aired on All Things Considered, Boulder County Commissioner Jones discussed the differences between ideologies and local control on a county level, as well as what will influence her decision.

Interview Highlights

On The Possible Financial Impacts Of Drilling

“That’s how Weld County funds it’s government and it’s local economy. Boulder County is not Weld County. Our economic vitality and prosperity is based on something completely different. We need to be careful as we move forward in balancing all of these land uses that not only are we protecting our air quality our water quality the health of our citizens but we’re also making sure that we can continue to be an economically prosperous county as we have been.”

On Making This Decision

“…we are waiting to hear back on the results of a number of studies that are pending in Colorado right now that take a look at [health effects of drilling] that. And we’re mindful of the fact that the state maybe taking action though the oil and gas task force.”

On Local Control

“From mining, to marijuana to commercial to residential development we historically have been able to say where and when and how that land use occurs in our community, and we should have that same right with oil and gas.”

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