The new Larimer County Board of Commissioners is looking to enact stricter rules as they take a second look at the county’s oil and gas regulations adopted last April.
The Larimer County commissioners and the Larimer County Planning Commission met together on Wednesday to kick off the process of reworking the county’s rules based on state regulations, adopted in November, that are stricter than the existing county rules.
The current Larimer County oil and gas regulations were adopted in April by a 2-1 vote with two Republican county commissioners, who are no longer on the board, voting in favor and Democrat John Kefalas voting against the regulations.
Since then, in November, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission adopted its new state rules and Larimer County voters elected to the Board of Commissioners two additional Democrats, who spoke in favor of environmental protections.
Bob Choate, chairman of the Larimer County Planning Commission, asked point blank if the county was taking a new, stricter direction based on that leadership change.
Both Kristin Stephens and Jody Shadduck-McNally, the new commissioners, confirmed that the board is now looking for more protections for the environment, health and safety. They said they appreciate the work that county staff, appointed and elected officials have already done, but want to take another look.
“We’re required to update our codes to bring it up to where the state is at,” said Shadduck-McNally, explaining that she wants to look at where the county can raise its standards above the state’s in areas that “are unique and important for the safety, health and welfare of our Larimer County residents.”
Stephens agreed, saying that she wants to hear more from residents as the board considers where the county would like to take its regulations in light of the ones put in place by the state in November.
“I know there was a robust public process,” Stephens said, referring to the more than year-long process that led to the county rules adopted in April. “I also know there’s a lot of folks that don’t think they were heard in that, and that are dissatisfied with the result … Hearing from people across the county, I feel there are still big concerns about regulating oil and gas extraction. I feel this is an opportunity to get those voices back at the table to see if, at the very least, we can comply with state regulations but also to see if our community wants to protect our community more.”
She added, “Sometimes a change in leadership does mean a change in policy. You’re not wrong in that.”
The joint meeting on Wednesday launched a process of updating the county’s oil and gas regulations, which county staff said they hope to have completed by April 26. Matt Lafferty, principal planner for the county, laid out a process of updating the regulations that includes several opportunities for public comments and ends with public hearings before both the Planning Commission and commissioners.
One of the first opportunities for public comment is through a…