Weld County Uses New Local Control Law To Create Oil And Gas Department

Grace Hood
This drilling rig near Greeley shows the area’s two powerful industries at work: agriculture and oil and gas. Nearly 90 percent of the state’s oil is produced in Weld County.

Freed by a new state law to set its own rules on oil and gas development, Weld County is looking to bolster the local energy industry.

County commissioners unanimously approved the creation of an Oil and Gas Department to foster oil and gas development in the county, where nearly 90 percent of the state’s oil is produced.

The new department will permit, regulate and enforce surface and air oil and gas operations for unincorporated Weld County. County officials hope the move will help speed up the processing of oil and gas drilling permitting for the county.

At the state level, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission has a backlog of thousands of drilling permits; officials hope the new department will help speed up the local part of the process.

This spring legislators passed Senate Bill 181, which was aimed at giving cities and counties more control over the oil and gas development process. While most local governments are expected to use the new law to make oil and gas development more difficult, Weld County is moving to make drilling more efficient for companies.

The department is expected to employ up to 12 staff members after it’s up and running.