While activists are putting the pressure on other communities to implement fracking bans, Weld County is planning to streamline some of its gas and oil regulations. An ordinance was introduced in December that will allow oil and gas companies to avoid the lengthy and costly process of applying for a site plan review.
A site plan review, which is an administrative procedure, is required any time an oil or gas company plans to significantly change their site or increase production. Under the proposal, operators would submit a long-range development plan that spells out their intentions for the site and includes best management practices and an emergency operations plan.
The companies would be required to meet with the Board of Commissioners once a year whereas the site plan review process involves meeting with staff but not the commissioners. The Commissioners have been adamant that the development of good working relationships between the Commissioners and the energy industry is the reason why gas and oil operations in the county have been less controversial in Weld even though it is one of the most active areas in Colorado for oil and gas activities.
The ordinance will go through two more hearings Jan. 6 and Jan. 27. In the meantime the City of Greeley is also considering additional regulations for oil and gas operations within the City. Exactly what the City Council will add to its regulations isn’t clear yet. A public meeting is planned for early 2014 to gather input before the Council gives staff more direction on any additional requirements.