On March 4, 2014, Brighton, Colorado’s City Council unanimously voted to suspend all oil and gas drilling applications for the next four months, through July 15, 2014.
Brighton, Colorado officials explained that this is not intended as a ban on drilling operations, but merely a temporary suspension to give the council more time to update the oil and gas regulations in the Brighton city code.

The delay will give provide time to draft and revise ordinances that address local concerns and assure consistency with state regulations, to consult with the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) and the Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA), and to educate the council and members of the city’s planning and zoning commission on oil and gas drilling and the new regulations.

One of the council members stressed that, unlike most Colorado cities, the water for Brighton comes from shallow wells and additional time is needed to address this unique concern in the regulations.Before the vote by the City Council, members heard testimony from representatives of the oil and gas industry, Brighton residents who work for oil and gas companies, and the state Attorney General’s office, all of whom stating that the moratorium was unnecessary and sent the wrong message to energy companies.

A COGA representative urged the members to use the existing state permitting and local government designee process to address local concerns while revising the regulations.

The assistant attorney with the Attorney General’s Office encouraged the council to vote down the moratorium because it was inappropriate, pointing out that currently there are no permits pending before the COGCC, that state rules apply regardless if cities have the same rules, and that the city could demand a COGCC hearing if a permit application were to be filed.

This post was written by Barclay Nicholson (barclay.nicholson@nortonrosefulbright.com or 713.651.3662) from Norton Rose Fulbright’s Energy Practice Group.