Jan. 15–Superior trustees on Monday approved a six-month drilling moratorium ahead of plans to explore the town’s oil and gas regulatory options.
The vote comes on the heels of last fall’s ill-fated Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge fracking application, one that would have allowed for up to 31 wells on a small undeveloped portion of Superior at the intersection of McCaslin Boulevard and Colo. 128 up that would have extended beneath the refuge.
The moratorium was unanimously approved with a slate of consent agenda items — a bundle of resolutions typically reserved for bulk approval without discussion.
The site highlighted by the town’s recent fracking scare — which is owned by CenturyLink — is potentially vulnerable to future applications, officials say, who have suggested in the lead up to Monday’s vote that necessary preemptive actions should come before another company turns its eye toward the property.
It’s unclear what specifically will go into the town’s new oil and gas approach moving forward, though officials have hinted in recent weeks at several directions.
Among them is a turn toward home rule, which, simply defined, gives cities and towns leverage to localize legislation while limiting state intervention.
Leaders appear split on the option, and its effectiveness in matters of oil and gas is often up for debate. In the case of a dispute, higher courts determine whether an issue constitutes “local concern,” and certain state laws often prevail.
Efforts to regulate oil and gas at the local level have often proved futile, with many being overturned by the courts.
Superior officials also have tossed around the idea of purchasing the CenturyLink property to protect it from future applications.
The town also has hired attorney Matt Sura to serve as its special oil and gas legal counsel.
The likeliest of options for Superior exists in regulating within the margins, similar to how Lafayette and Erie have chosen to operate in their respective anti-fracking turns.
Lafayette later this year likely will approve an update to its 25-year-old drilling codes — the most recent draft suggests it will mirror Boulder County’s, while Erie has governed on a decidedly more micro level, approving overhauled operator agreements with local drillers in favor of enacting sweeping regulations.
Meanwhile, the efforts of state residents to see more done to limit oil and gas activity were dealt a blow on Monday morning, when the Colorado Supreme Court reversed a lower court ruling that said the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission should give more weight to the public health, safety and the environment when considering new drilling.
Anthony Hahn: 303-473-1422, email@example.com or twitter.com/_anthonyhahn
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