Adams County Temporarily Halts Oil And Gas Permits Ahead Of Proposition 112 Vote

<p>Brennan Linsley/AP</p>
<p>A worker watches over a hydraulic fracturing operation at an Encana Corp. oil well near Mead, Colo., March 25, 2014.</p>
Photo: Colorado Oil And Gas | Mead Well Head And Worker - AP
A worker watches over a hydraulic fracturing operation at an Encana Corp. oil well near Mead, Colo., March 25, 2014.

Published 12:35 p.m. | Updated 2:24 p.m.

Adams County has temporarily stopped oil and gas drilling permitting in advance of the election. The move was considered to head off a potential rush of new applications if voters approve Prop 112 in November.

The county board voted 4-1 Tuesday in favor of the short-term pause in permits.

“The county is committed to fairness in its regulation of oil and gas development,” Board Chair Mary Hodge said in a news release. “This moratorium is designed to ensure there is no unfair advantage to applicants who might apply under current regulations in the weeks between now and the date that potential changes in the law under Proposition 112 become effective.”

The resolution refers to a “real potential” for a rush of applications before the election and, if Proposition 112 passes, before it would take effect. Statewide, the number of drilling permit applications is up dramatically over the previous year.

In September, Colorado regulators reported a backlog of 5,040 drilling permits through Aug. 31 versus 1,802 permits at the same time in 2017. Adams County spokesman Jim Siedlecki told The Denver Post he didn’t know if permits have increased there.

If voters agree in November, Prop 112 would require any new oil and gas development not on federal land to be set back 2,500 feet from homes and “vulnerable areas” like playgrounds, lakes and rivers. Current state regulations prohibit oil and gas facilities from being closer than 500 feet from homes and 1,000 feet from schools, health care centers, and other high-occupancy buildings.

The executive director of the Colorado Petroleum Council, Tracee Bentley, released a statement that they were "disappointed” in the commissioners' decision.

“Crafting public policy based on hypothetical political outcomes is never preferable,” Bentley said. “Coloradans deserve to have their voices heard. The Colorado Petroleum Council and its member companies have always enjoyed a positive, collaborative, and engaging relationship with Adams County.”