BOULDER — Boulder County commissioners on Thursday imposed a temporary moratorium on accepting and processing new applications for oil and gas drilling operations in any unincorporated areas of the county.
The six-month moratorium, which took effect immediately and is to remain in place until Aug. 2, is intended to give the county staff time to study the adequacy of Boulder County’s current land use regulations as they apply to oil and gas development, and to propose possible amendments to those existing local rules.
“I think we all agree that we have some sense of urgency around this,” said Commissioner Deb Gardner, who said the time-out on processing new drilling applications is needed to make sure Boulder County is doing everything a local government legally can do, in “protecting the people and the environment.”
Gardner and Commissioners Cindy Domenico and Will Toor unanimously voted Thursday to adopt a resolution imposing the temporary moratorium resolution and to tentatively set a March 1 public hearing on the issues associated with oil and gas drilling, particularly those involving the potential impacts of horizontal drilling and of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking” — the process of injecting a mixture of sand, water and chemicals into rock formations in order to free up hard-to-reach oil and natural gas deposits.
“This is a time to take a breath and step back,” said Domenico, chairwoman of the Board of County Commissioners.