Topic: Colorado

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End of Colorado legislative session marks beginning of new era of energy regulation

The end of Colorado’s legislative session this past Friday marked the beginning of a new era of energy regulation posing serious ramifications to the State’s fracking industry.

On April 16, 2019, Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed Senate Bill 19-181, officially revamping the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. Prior to the Act, the Commission’s purpose was to foster the development of Colorado’s natural resources. Now, the Commission has a new mission: to regulate the oil and gas industry and to protect the public’s health and safety and the environment.… Continue Reading

Colorado voters reject Proposition 112

On November 6, Proposition 112 failed 58 percent to 42 percent. The measure needed 50 percent to pass. After a contentious and expensive campaign, voters derailed the measure that posed drastic implications on future oil and gas development in the state.

Proposition 112 would have expanded existing setback requirements from 500 feet to 2,500 feet from homes, schools, hospitals, and “vulnerable areas.” If Proposition 112 passed, Colorado would have approved the country’s largest mandatory buffer zone between new wells and homes. Proposition 112 would have made future oil and gas development on nonfederal land within the state nearly impossible.

The … Continue Reading

Wyoming federal judge issues preliminary injunction against BLM’s hydraulic fracturing regulations

The Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) and several states, including Wyoming, Colorado, North Dakota, Utah, and the Ute Indian Tribe rejoiced when Wyoming federal judge Scott W. Skavdahl issued a preliminary injunction against the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) new hydraulic fracturing regulations.

“We are pleased to see Judge Skavdahl agrees with our request to first hear the merits of our case before this final federal rule goes into effect,” IPAA Pres. Barry Russell stated following the September 30 order.

The complaint was filed by IPAA and Western Energy Alliance on March 20 to challenge BLM’s final ruling … Continue Reading

Colorado Supreme Court decides to hear fracking regulation cases

On Monday, September 21, The Supreme Court of Colorado agreed to decide whether localities can ban hydraulic fracturing operations or limit the storage of fracking waste products within their limits. The Court agreed to hear two cases, one involving a ban in the City of Longmont, and the other involving a ban in the City of Fort Collins. Both bans were overturned at the District Court level in 2014. A third Colorado city’s ban was also overturned in 2014.

In both Longmont and Fort Collins, citizens voted to ban hydraulic fracturing in oil and gas wells and storing fracturing waste … Continue Reading

Colorado Supreme Court refuses to authorize Lone Pine orders in fracking cases

On Monday, April 20th, 2015, the Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in Antero Resources v. Strudley, a case closely watched by many in the oil and gas industry. The Supreme Court was confronted with the issue of whether the Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure permit a trial court to issue a Lone Pine order—that is, a modified case management order requiring a plaintiff to submit prima facie evidence in support of the lawsuit before permitting full discovery. Lone Pine orders are used primarily in complex cases to ferret out meritless claims and ensure that litigation progresses expeditiously.
StrudleyContinue Reading

Broomfield, Colorado: The latest town sued because of a local fracking ban

Several cities have recently passed local legislation banning the use of hydraulic fracturing. These local fracking bans have become the subject of litigation in a number of states. Broomfield, Colorado has become the latest locality to be sued for banning hydraulic fracturing within city limits.

In 2013, Broomfield voters passed Local Question 300— an amendment to the city’s charter that prohibits the use of fracking and the disposal or open pit storage of fracking waste within city limits for five years. According to the Colorado Oil & Gas Association (COGA), the measure passed by only twenty votes.

On November 24th, … Continue Reading

The New York Court of Appeals rules on local ban on fracking

The New York Court of Appeals recently denied an energy company’s motion for rehearing in Matter of Wallach v. Dryden. Matter of Wallach was a consolidated appeal in which the court heard challenges to local fracking bans enacted in the Towns of Dryden and Middlefield. The parties challenging the bans argued that the local laws were preempted by state law.

The court held that the Oil, Gas and Solution Mining Law (OGSML) did not preempt local bans on hydraulic fracturing. The court reasoned that the towns had authority to enact the zoning laws banning fracking under the doctrine of home … Continue Reading

US geological survey researchers release findings on reports of induced seismicity in Colorado and New Mexico

Researchers with the US Geological Survey recently released a study claiming a link between wastewater injection and reported seismicity in the Raton Basin of Northern New Mexico and Southern Colorado. The researchers sought to explain a series of August-September 2011 earthquakes in the region and claimed that there was “strong evidence that [the] earthquake sequence [was] induced by fluid injection in the area.” They came to this conclusion in part because “earthquake rate change” over time appeared “to be solely coming from the area of the wells.”

This is the latest in a series of studies seeking to explain reported … Continue Reading

Irreconcilable differences: Colorado court finds that a local hydraulic fracturing ban is preempted by the Colorado Oil and Gas Act

Hydraulic fracturing has become a hot button topic in Colorado as oil and natural gas development has increased near urban and residential areas. During the 2012 election, in response to citizen concerns, the cities of Longmont, Lafayette and Broomfield adopted some form of ban on hydraulic fracturing, despite strong warnings from the state and local industry trade groups that such bans were contrary to state law.

On July 24, 2014, the Boulder County District Court fulfilled those predictions and overturned the City of Longmont’s ban on hydraulic fracturing and storage and disposal of hydraulic fracturing waste within city limits. See Continue Reading

EPA reviews states’ solid waste management regulations for oil and gas operations

In an April 1, 2014 memorandum, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) summarized state regulatory programs concerning the management of solid waste from oil and natural gas exploration, development and production (E&P) operations.

In reviewing each state’s regulations, the EPA focused on surface storage and disposal facilities managing produced waters, drilling muds, drilling cuttings, hydraulic fracturing return fluids, and various other waste liquids and materials intrinsically related to oil and gas E&P.

The EPA found that the state regulations were primarily concerned with the “technical requirements associated with the design, construction, operation, maintenance, closure, and reclamation of surface pits, … Continue Reading

University of Colorado report examines economic effects of a statewide ban on hydraulic fracturing

With five municipalities and Boulder County in Colorado voting to ban hydraulic fracturing, the Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado – Boulder studied the economic effects of a statewide hydraulic fracturing ban.The research was conducted on behalf of several local economic-development companies, including the Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation, who wanted to show the worst-case scenario so the public would understand the size of the oil and gas industry in Colorado.

According to the report, which assumes a 95% reduction in drilling activities, the economic consequences of a ban beginning in 2015 would be an average … Continue Reading

Methane emissions from oil and gas operations targeted by state regulations

Ohio has joined Colorado and Wyoming in issuing new regulations aimed at limiting the emission of methane gas from oil and natural gas operations to address climate change and health concerns. In development for more than a year, the revised Ohio rules are effective immediately and apply to high volume hydraulic fracturing, oil and gas well site production operations. The rules modify the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency’s general permitting process and include the following:

  • Operators must now test and monitor for any fugitive emissions taking place at a well site on a quarterly basis.
  • A leak detection and repair program
Continue Reading

Lone Pine Order in hydraulic fracturing lawsuit to be reviewed by Colorado Supreme Court

On April 7, 2014, the Colorado Supreme Court agreed to review a court of appeals decision that overturned a Lone Pine Order and a dismissal order issued by the lower court in Strudley v. Antero Resources Corporation, Antero Resources Piceance Corporation, Calfrac Well Services, and Frontier Drilling LLC (Case No. 2011-cv-2218, Denver County District Court), a toxic tort case involving hydraulic fracturing.

Two questions will be addressed by the Supreme Court:

  • Whether a district court is barred as a matter of law from entering into a modified case management order requiring the plaintiffs to produce evidence essential to their claims
Continue Reading

Bans, moratoriums and votes relating to hydraulic fracturing

Each state has legitimate interests in the orderly development of their oil and gas resources and generally regulates all oil and gas activities through a state agency which implements state laws.

Counties and municipalities have also taken interest in the development of oil and gas resources within their boundaries by enacting local ordinances ranging from set-back requirements to temporary moratoriums or permanent bans on hydraulic fracturing.

Proposals for temporary moratoriums and bans have been voted on in local elections.

For example, Vermont decided to ban hydraulic fracturing on May 16, 2012. In November 2013, four cities in Colorado (Boulder, Fort … Continue Reading

Lesser prairie-chicken added to US Fish and Wildlife Service’s list of threatened species

After more than 15 years of review, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced on March 27, 2014 that the lesser prairie-chicken, a species of prairie grouse, is a “threatened” species, a step below “endangered” under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

The lesser prairie-chicken’s population is in rapid decline, due largely to habitat loss and fragmentation and the on-going drought in the southern Great Plains.

Once abundant across much of the five range states of Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas and Colorado, the lesser prairie-chicken’s habitat of native grasslands and prairies has been reduced by an estimated 84%. The … Continue Reading

Court upholds Broomfield, Colorado’s ban on hydraulic fracturing

After a recount of the votes cast on November 5, 2013, in Broomfield, Colorado, Local Question 300 banning hydraulic fracturing within the city for five years was passed by 20 votes.
The Broomfield Balanced Energy Coalition and others challenged the legality of the local moratorium by questioning the validity of the election results.

The groups pointed to a recent “bad election bill” concerning state residency requirements for voters in coordinated elections, a “deceptively written” Local Question 300, and “incompetent” election officials in Broomfield who admitted to mistakes including the discovery of a ballot box four months after the election.
In … Continue Reading

Brighton, Colorado suspends oil and gas drilling applications for 4 months

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 … Continue Reading

Colorado’s air quality control commission approves hydrocarbon emission control requirements

After a five-day public hearing, on Sunday February 23, 2014, the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission in an 8 to 1 vote approved regulations to control hydrocarbon emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

The Commission estimates that these rules which include input from the Environmental Defense Fund and a number of oil and gas companies, including Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, Noble Energy Inc., and Encana Corporation, will reduce methane emissions by an estimated 92,000 tons per year in the state.

These regulations for oil and gas operations include:

  • storage tanks – beginning May 1, 2014, owners or operators of storage tanks
Continue Reading

Environmental groups seek to intervene to defend Ft. Collins’ moratorium on hydraulic fracturing

On February 13, 2014, Citizens for a Healthy Fort Collins, the Sierra Club, and Earthworks filed a motion to intervene in Colorado Oil and Gas Association v. City of Fort Collins, Colorado, Case No. 2013CV031385, In the District Court, Larimer County, Colorado (December 3, 2013), a lawsuit challenging the city of Fort Collins authority to ban hydraulic fracturing.

In November 2013, the 55% of the citizens of Fort Collins, Colorado voted to ban hydraulic fracturing from their city for five years. On December 3, 2013, the Colorado Oil & Gas Association filed a lawsuit against the city, arguing that … Continue Reading

To drink or not to drink: Water use and disposal issues in hydraulic fracturing

The November 2013 presentation “To Drink or Not to Drink? Water Use and Disposal Issues in Hydraulic Fracturing” was given in Denver, Colorado, at the AICPA/PDI National Oil and Gas Conference.
 Water plays a major role in the production of oil and gas from shale formations by the use of hydraulic fracturing.

Within the past several years, concerns have been raised about the reduction of citizens’ water supplies due to the large volume of water used in the fracturing process, the alleged contamination of aquifers and water wells that supply drinking water, and the appropriate disposal of or recycling of … Continue Reading

Oil and gas association challenges fracking bans in two Colorado cities

In November, the citizens of Fort Collins, Colorado and Lafayette, Colorado voted to ban hydraulic fracturing from their cities. See prior blog, “Voters in three Colorado cities ban hydraulic fracturing.” In Fort Collins, a five-year ban on hydraulic fracturing was approved with 55% of the vote. Sixty percent (60%) of the voters in Lafayette approved an indefinite ban on all oil and gas development, including the deposit, storage, or transportation of fracking wastewater through “the land, air or waters” of the city. In both cities, the City Councils had opposed the bans.

On December 3, 2013, the Colorado … Continue Reading

President Obama promises to veto hydraulic fracturing bill and other energy-related legislation

On November 20, 2013, the U.S. House of Representatives approved two energy-related bills – one bill concerning hydraulic fracturing regulations on federal lands (H.R. 2728) and the second relating to applications for permits to drill (H.R. 1965). Two other energy bills are pending, one dealing with the permitting of natural gas pipelines (H.R. 1900) and the other with the standards to be used by the EPA in disseminating its report on the impacts of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water resources (H.R. 2850).

President Obama has threatened to veto at least three of these measures in the unlikely event they pass … Continue Reading

Broomfield, Colorado re-count – Voters approve hydraulic fracturing ban

On November 5, 2013, Broomfield, Colorado voters considered a ban on  the use of hydraulic fracturing and open-pit storage of solid or liquid hydraulic fracturing waste for five years within the city and county of Broomfield. At the end of the day, it appeared that the ban had failed by 13 votes.
However, a re-count flipped the results, showing that the ban passed by 17 votes. There will be another re-count to confirm these results. This means that the voters in four Colorado towns have now voted for and approved hydraulic fracturing bans.
For information on these votes, see prior … Continue Reading