Colorado Governor Hickenlooper announced a proposed bill to allow local governments to set rules on noise and drilling setbacks, now at 500 feet, and to impose “reasonably necessary” moratoriums on drilling permits. Under the bill, local jurisdictions could also inspect drilling sites for regulatory compliance and recover those costs. Proponents of the legislation believe that while local governments would have greater control, they would not be permitted to ban drilling activity outright or implement rules so restrictive that they impede activity. Oil and gas operators could appeal rules they consider too heavy handed with the local jurisdiction, and if they aren’t satisfied, appeal again to a district court. The appeal process, however, is costly and time consuming and could derail a project and undermine its economic feasibility.
Opponents of the bill come not only from petroleum industry but from the greater business community, including vocal support from the Clolorado Association of Homebuilders. Even if a compromise bill is passed, it won’t address Initiative 75, previously discussed here, which business groups consider the most damaging of the various questions that could come to a vote.