El Paso County commissioners on Tuesday narrowly approved a basic set of regulations to govern oil and gas drilling in the county.
The Board of County Commissioners voted 3-2 to approve a proposal that was significantly scaled down from what the county’s planning commission approved earlier this month. The regulations govern transportation, emergency response, noxious weeds and, controversially, water quality issues related to drilling.
Commissioners Peggy Littleton and Darryl Glenn objected to the water quality regulations, arguing that the county was overstepping its authority because the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission also regulates drilling-related water issues.
“I think it would be irresponsible for us to open ourselves up to lawsuits,” Littleton said.
The Attorney General’s Office and oil and gas commission director Dave Neslin have expressed concern over the county’s proposed rules, both in the version approved by the planning commission and a trimmed-down version the county’s planning staff developed last week, arguing that the county can’t regulate areas where the state has its rules in place.
However, commissoners Amy Lathen, Sallie Clark and Dennis Hisey said that water quality was too important to leave up to the state.
“I really don’t mind pushing the envelope when it comes to our water quality,” Hisey said. MORE …