By Megan Mitchell – YourHub Reporter – October 9, 2014
AURORA — Aurora is considering changing its regulations governing oil and gas operations in the city to align with new industry practices, a move that comes after resident complaints that too many waivers are being given to well operator ConocoPhillips.
City officials acknowledge the waivers but say they are necessary because the city’s 2012 laws clash with new technology and environmental mandates.
So, the city is proposing changing its laws and will also address landscape and fencing requirements, setbacks from buildings and whether or not oil and gas companies need to apply for building permits to create well sites.
Now, city regulations limit structures on the well sites to 20 feet. But the vapor recovery towers that are now common at the drilling sites to reduce emissions are taller than that, requiring a waiver. The city is proposing to amend the 20-feet rule to apply only to storage tanks, not the towers, which are 31 feet tall.
“Regulations change, technology has changed,” said city planning manager Jim Sayre . “As a result, ConocoPhillips is using these vapor recovery towers. If we (change the law to limit height requirements) to tanks, and not treatment facilities, then Conoco can add the air quality equipment on those sites.
In the last few weeks, ConocoPhillips has applied for six new well pad sites in east Aurora, roughly 2,000 feet from existing subdivisions. There are already approximately six operational well pad sites in the city.
The Colorado Department of Health and Environment recently changed state regulations regarding emissions from fracking sites, and ConocoPhillips installed vapor recovery towers to control the release of greenhouse gases to comply.