by Pam Zubeck
Two public meetings are scheduled this month to shed light on oil and gas drilling the Niobrara Shale formation which underlies El Paso County. The meetings will be hosted by El Paso County Commission Chair Amy Lathen and State Rep. Marsha Looper.
The Niobrara Shale is a rock formation containing oil and natural gas that lies below the Denver Basin Aquifers.
Lathen and Looper will explain the permitting process and oversight of the Division of Water Resources, Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the Department of Local Affairs.
Tuesday, Aug. 16, 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Mountain View Electric Association, 11140 E. Woodmen Road
Thursday, Aug. 18, 6 to 8 p.m.
El Paso County Public Services Facility
3255 Akers Drive
“I encourage residents to attend at least one and possibly both of these summits,” Lathen said in a press release.
Both will offer valuable information on technical, environmental and legal issues. Representative Looper and Commissioner Lathen will host the August 16th daytime meeting focused on state laws and regulations. The evening meeting on August 18th will provide an additional opportunity for citizens unable to attend the daytime session. It will use the foundation of State Regulations and the information shared on the 16th and serve as a follow up to that meeting with added perspective on county level issues including applicable land use regulations and property rights.”
The issue of oil and gas drilling has arisen because Ultra Petroleum of Houston submitted the winning bid of $26.25 million to buy 18,000 acres of the Banning Lewis Ranch, which forms the eastern portion of Colorado Springs. Other companies reportedly also are interested in drilling further east.
On July 8, county spokesman Dave Rose issued this statement regarding oil and gas drilling in the county:
The County is very much interested in encouraging economic activity and development of resources while at the same time protecting air and water quality, maintaining neighborhoods and recovering the costs related to energy development on public facilities such as county roads and bridges.
Commissioners and Development Services staff have held extensive meetings and staff members are working closely with their counterparts in Weld County where they have had a lot of experience on this issue. Staff is working on amendments to our land use code which will specifically address many of these issues.
Additionally, as an agent of the State, all county regulations will have to comply with state laws and the Commissioners have yet to determine if they will need to work with lawmakers to ensure that they county has the ability to deal with the new technologies now being used in the industry.