Boulder County's new O&G regs
Boulder Adopts New O&G Regs
December 10, 2020
The full report on Boulder County's new O&G regulations can be seen on their website at:
The salient points from the document, called Resolution 2020-95 that are effective as of December 15, 2020, (see full 42 page document here)
a current moratorium on any new O&G development, including seismic testing, through 2020 for the entire county
it flatly states at the outset that these regs are more restrictive than the state's regs, and that it has full regulatory authority to do so, including the denial of any drilling application
that the regulations will also apply to any existing O&G operations
that the operator must list any violations within the past 10 years with the COGCC, CDPHE or any other agency
a "financial fitness" report for the operator, essentially full financial reports for the past 5 years, including tax returns
the operator's "Complaint Protocol", i.e. how they process any complaints from the public
This information must updated annually, by July 31
Existing operations that are in violation of the new rules can be allowed to continue to operate; but they could be shut down, depending on review by the county
That the county has the right to inspect any existing facility, including collection of soil samples, inspection for leakages
Any spills or leakages must be reported within 6 hours to the county
Cleanup of spills or leakages must be done according to prescribed protocols
A "Root Cause Analysis" of any such spill or leakage must be filed within 30 days of the event
Noise and odor rules apply per prescribed protocol
the operator must have an Emergency Response Plan for all their facilities, including detailed information that is filed with the County
Revegetation and Regeneration: upon shutting down any O&G operation, any "disturbed land" must be "restored to the satisfaction of the County and the land owner", using native plant species, and removal of any noxious or invasive species
Plugged or Abandoned wells: a plan must be submitted prior to any well being plugged or abandoned
Any flowlines connected to an abandoned well must be removed, unless authorized by the landowner and the county to not do so
Seismic testing: a detailed plan must be submitted, including any affected structures, geologic hazards, floodplains, pipelines within 800 feet to the area to be tested
Proof of adequate insurance for any contractors for any potential damage caused by the testing
Written permission from all landowners whose land will be tested
A full plan for the vibration monitoring, including a certified Engineer or Geologist that takes responsibility for the plan, that covers every detail of the equipment to be used, as well as when and where it will be used
No explosive seismic testing allowed
Advance notice to all residents within 800 feet of the planned area
Application Process: a detailed description is provided, including community engagement, surface use agreements and COGCC approval; site visits can be requested by the county if needed.
Any residents within one mile of the proposed drilling site must be notified by mail, using a prescribed message and format.
Any water source owners or operators within one mile must be similarly notified.
Once an application is approved by the county, the operator must post public signage that is clearly visible, with the operator's contact information
Once signage is posted, a photograph of it must be submitted within 5 days to the county; the county can request modification of the signs if they are inadequate; the signage must be monitored for removal or defacement
Neighborhood Meeting: once signage has been posted, the Applicant must conduct a meeting at a convenient public space with the landowner, adjacent landowners and "other interested parties" within 20 days; said parties must be given at least 14 days advance notice.
At the meeting the Applicant will give a complete overview of the proposed drilling plan. The meeting must recorded on video, and the recording submitted to the county. Remote attendance of the meeting can be allowed for public health reasons.
Agency Review: all appropriate county agencies must be notified, including the Public Health Dept, Parks & Rec, Open Space, Sheriff, Fire Department, Emergency Management, and any other appropriate office, including a school district.
Any application within 1,500 feet of County Open Space will be referred to Parks and Open Space Advisory Committee (POSAC) for a public hearing, for the purpose of protecting the ecology, historical, archeological, agricultural or recreational resources in the area.
Consultant Review: the county may submit the application for review of technical sections of the application by a hired consultant. The Applicant must cover this cost.
Pollution liability, well control, and other forms of liability insurance must be provided by the Applicant, with a minimum of $25 million coverage per incident.
Financial Fitness: the Applicant must provide adequate assurance that they have the financial resources to carry out the proposed operation for the life of the well, and its eventual abandonment.
Site Information: the operation plan must identify everything of significance within one mile of the well site, including existing dwellings, roads, typography, other O&G facilities, pipelines, roads, water well, agricultural land, educational facilities, water bodies, riparian areas, natural resouces, existing vegetation, wildlife, recreational facilities, floodplains and open space.
Ozone Exceedance: a report of all ozone violations recorded by the county CDPHE recording stations for the past 3 years must be included in the application.
Drilling Plan: a detailed plan of how the well will be drilled and operated.
Air Quality: Applicant must submit an independent expert's review of all existing operations for measurement of their emissions, including methane, VOCs, NOx, CO2 and particulates.
Air Quality Modeling: must submit a qualified, independent modeling study that considers all relevant environmental and atmospheric conditions, which includes existing air quality, and anticipated emissions from the proposed facility.
Baseline Soil Conditions: an independent expert must be hired to report on current soil conditions.
Traffic and Road Use Plan: anticipates likely traffic impact for the area.
Water Quality: anticipated water needed for all phases of the proposed operation; the impacts of water use; amount of produced water expected; a plan for how it will be managed.
Existing water conditions must be tested by an independent expert. Baseline water analysis must be conducted and filed. Previous analyses may be used instead if conducted within previous year.
If any water sample shows contamination of any sort, additional sampling is required. If any dissolved methane is found, additional analysis that identifies the specific gas isotopes is required, and the source of the gas must be identified.
Stormwater Quality Control: a plan must be submitted for this.
Emergency Preparedness Plan: likewise, including a process by which the surrounding community can submit complaints and be assured of responses.
Noise Plan: an independent contractor must be hired to model, measure and prepare a baseline report, and include a complaint process.
Odor Plan: anticipated odors must be listed, and what steps will be taken to prevent or mitigate local impacts. A complaint process must be included.
Waste Management Plan: an independent expert must be hired to make the report, which will project all anticipated waste, and how it will be handled using trucks, pipelines, etc.
Conditions of Approval: any application will be denied if it does not protect the public health, safety, and welfare, the environment and wildlife.
All venting and routine flaring is prohibited.
Closed loop flowback systems, that are pitless, are required for managing of drilling fluids and produced water.
Emission reduction measures in reaction to air quality advisories from the CDPHE, including minimizing of engine idling, reduced truck traffic, delaying or suspending vehicle refueling, and other construction activity.
Other emission control systems are specified, that are further preventative measures against emissions.
Inspections will occur onsite at least every 30 days; soil sampling must occur at least annually.
Onsite inspections can occur at any time with a minimum of 4 hours notice.
Violations will be reported to the COGCC. If the COGCC fails to bring suit, the county attorney can bring suit seeking injunctive relief.
Fines & Penalties: detailed rules about the process of fines and penalties can be brought to bear; what appeals can be made to the county commissioners.