By Charles Taylor – Senior Staff Writer – NACO (National Association of Counties) County News
Oil and gas exploration is coming to previously untapped parts of Colorado — like El Paso and Douglas counties along the eastern Front Range of the Rocky Mountains. And if test wells find significant petroleum resources, production drilling would surely follow.
This has some local officials scrambling to deal with the anticipated consequences, both good and bad.
In September, El Paso County commissioners passed a four-month suspension on issuing oil and gas permits to give the county time to create local land use regulations to address drilling and exploration. This came on the heels of Texas-based Ultra Petroleum’s announced plans to step up exploration in the county. Arapahoe, Douglas and Elbert counties have also drafted regulations.
Douglas County recently extended the comment period on its proposed rules from Nov. 18 to Dec. 16, to provide more time for public input.
“When oil drilling does come to the Douglas County area, we want to be able to provide landowners with the ability to be able to protect their quality of life,” said Joél Lambe, a retired environmental protection specialist and a member of Landowners Alliance for N.E. Douglas County (LAND). The group is concerned that standard petroleum industry leases don’t adequately protect air and water quality, among other issues.