Colorado’s Oil And Gas Regulators Will Be On The Clock To Review Weld County’s Permits

<p>Hart Van Denburg/CPR News</p>
<p>A dormant pump jack near Berwick Avenue in Firestone on April 2, 2019.</p>

Weld County signed an agreement with Colorado’s oil and gas regulators, who will review drilling permits with a time cap as the state continues to work through its massive backlog of permits

Under the agreement, Colorado’s Oil and Gas Conservation Commission will have 60 days to review drilling permits in unincorporated Weld County submitted after Aug. 5. The commission can approve or deny the permits, or give an explanation on how to get a permit approved.

In early August, Weld County established its own Energy and Gas Oil Department to “firmly establish” the county's local control over mineral resources in unincorporated Weld County. The county is the largest oil and gas producer in the state. Under Colorado’s 1041 powers, which give local governments the ability to regulate areas of state interest through a local permitting process, the county’s department will review permits and regulate the oil and gas industry in its jurisdiction. 

Weld County Commissioner Barbara Kirmeyer said the agreement is a win-win and gives the industry clarity on how the process will work between the county and the state. 

“The industry doesn't have to go through our process first. They can go through them both concurrently. But the deal is because we adopted the 1041 regulations and accepted the delegation of authority from the state, the state now has some limitations placed on it,” she said. “I think it's good for everyone because it shows how the state local governments are working together.”

Senate Bill 181 passed in April and brought sweeping changes to the oil and gas industry, including making health and safety higher priorities for state regulators. It also gives local governments more control over where wells are located.

Since 181 was passed, the state has reduced its backlog by 117 permits. As of August, the most recent report available, there are about 6,300 drilling permits in Colorado awaiting approval.

Megan Castle with COGCC said the new agreement will allow the agency to efficiently work with Weld County’s new division. 

“It's also intended for us to work together with them and as well with operators who are submitting the permits,” she said. “We will be doing the best that we can take to get those permits out.”