At a meeting of the Boulder County Commission, at which the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office provided security, the Commission voted unanimously to allow hydraulic fracturing in Boulder County. The Commissioners each acknowledged that their personal preference would be to ban fracking. But they further acknowledged that the power to regulate below-ground oil and gas activities lies with the state — specifically, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.
Nonetheless, the county does have the power to regulate the use of county land under its Comprehensive Plan and Land Use regulations. Boulder County’s regulations apply to unincorporated county lands. The lands in Boulder County where oil and gas activities are occurring are located within the DJ Basin and the Niobrara shale region, a very active Colorado shale play.
The current moratorium banning fracking in Boulder County—which has been in place since February 2, 2012—is set to expire on February 4, 2013. According to the Commissioners, the moratorium will likely be extended for a period of time to allow for procedures to be put in place under the new regulations, and to train county staff on implementing and enforcing the new regulations. The regulations address such as land use matters as setbacks, as well as environmental considerations such as air and water quality.