By Mark Jaffe – The Denver Post – July 27, 2014
Development of oil and gas shale formations has sparked drilling from Pennsylvania to California, and that is leading to a new wave of local oil and gas ordinances and bans.
Towns and cities — from Robinson Township, Pa., population 13,354, to Dallas, population 1.2 million — are enacting rules to limit or control oil and gas development.
Beverly Hills, Calif., home to Hollywood stars and a cluster of wells at Beverly Hills High School, has banned fracking, the technique used to crack shale and free up oil and gas.
The rural New York hamlet of Dryden, home to the northeast’s two largest organic dairy farms, has zoned it out of town.
But in many places, local governments and the oil and gas industry are reaching accord and finding ways to balance desires of residents against the demands of business.
“New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma all have local oil and gas rules,” said Barbara Green, an environmental and land-use attorney. “It is a nonissue everyplace except Colorado.”
In Colorado, the battle over local control is being fought in the courts and perhaps at the ballot box this fall. Oil and gas companies and the state oppose giving local governments more say over where drilling can occur. Industry supports the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission as its principal regulator and is wary of a patchwork of rules that they say could limit, or even stop, drilling.
“Often, ‘local control’ is a euphemism for banning oil and gas development,” Tisha Schuller, president of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, said in an e-mail. “In that context, it is unproductive.”