Joint Larimer Alliance-LOGIC Comments
on proposed oil & gas regulations from BOCC
Nov 21, 2020
Larimer County Commissioners
CC: Matt Lafferty, Leslie Ellis, Tom Gonzales
200 W. Oak Street Ft. Collins, CO 80521
Nov 21, 2019
RE: Larimer County Draft “Oil And Gas Facilities” Proposed Regulations to the Larimer County Land Use Code
Dear Commissioners Johnson, Donnelly and Kefalas, and Mr. Lafferty, Mr. Gonzales, and Ms. Ellis:
The League of Oil and Gas Impacted Coloradans (LOGIC) and groups aligned under the Larimer Alliance for Health, Safety and the Environment (Larimer Alliance) appreciates the opportunity to submit the following comments regarding Larimer County’s draft regulations for Oil and Gas Facilities.
These comments reference the Larimer County draft “Oil and Gas Facilities Regulations” in Section 17.0 of the Larimer County Land Use Code. Oil and gas development, both generational and especially new “unconventional” drilling and exploration, pose significant risks and impacts to local communities – to public health, safety, welfare, and the environment of Larimer County.
SB19-181 became law on April 16, 2019. It equips local governments with a new spectrum of tools, rights, and responsibilities regarding oil and gas. In mid-2019 the Larimer Alliance formed and respectfully requested that Larimer County take the time to fully develop local regulations to protect public health, safety, welfare, the environment and wildlife resources. While the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) is working to develop the new framework and rules to implement SB19-181, we have consistently advocated that our County also commit to putting health, safety, and our environment first.
We began by urging the County to enact a moratorium on new oil and gas development and permits until state government announced new rules. We also encouraged Larimer County to closely review the regulatory frameworks of other Front Range jurisdictions such as Adams County, Commerce City, Erie, or Broomfield, with an eye toward best ideas to protect public health, safety, welfare and the environment.
Under the new law, local governments are explicitly spared from state preemption in their land use authority and may establish regulations that afford more protection than those of the state regarding public health, safety, welfare, the environment and wildlife. As such, local jurisdictions have wide discretion to approve, condition or deny permit applications and to regulate oil and gas operations in a reasonable manner to protect and minimize adverse impacts
to public health, safety, and welfare, the environment, and wildlife resources and to protect against adverse environmental impacts resulting from oil and gas operations. Also very important, SB19-181 directs that no longer is “cost-effectiveness and technical feasibility” to be applied when regulating oil and gas operations. We strongly recommend Larimer County to eliminate loophole language such as “to the maximum extent practicable” and “where feasible”, and replace the term “encourage” with “require” compliance with regulations.
Without a moratorium thus far, now we move to our specific comments on the County’s recently released draft regulations.
To begin, we seek that Larimer County develop and adopt regulatory language that clearly protects public health, safety, welfare, the environment, and wildlife resources. This includes:
• A clearly asserted right to deny, condition or approve permits to protect and to minimize adverse impacts to public health, safety, and welfare, the environment, and wildlife resources, and to protect against adverse environmental impacts resulting from oil and gas operations.
• a comprehensive and transparent public process regarding consideration of new oil and gas development.
• a series of protective and thorough standards for applications for new oil and gas development that include at least a minimum 2,000 foot setback from homes, high occupancy building areas (such as hospitals and schools) and from water sources.
• high standards for all oil and gas operations within Larimer County that thoroughly protect public health, safety, and welfare, the environment, and wildlife resources, and minimize and mitigate the extent and severity of those impacts that cannot be avoided. This begins with expanding requirements regarding air quality, water, odor, noise and vibrations, truck traffic, chemical use, waste management, and financial security for County residents, property owners, taxpayers, and local governments.
With this in mind, LOGIC recommends the following, regarding the Larimer County proposed “Oil and Gas Facilities” Draft language to the Larimer County Land Use Code.
Section 17.1 -- Intent and Purpose
Section 17.1 of the “Oil and Gas Facilities” section of Larimer County Land Use Code states that:
“The Intent and purpose of this section is to establish and administer necessary and reasonable regulations for oil and gas drilling and production in a manner that protects and promotes the health, safety, and general welfare of the residents and environment of the County. To the extent practicable these regulations will require applications for oil and gas operations to demonstrate how adverse impacts will be mitigated to achieve a minimal negative impact on the environment, wildlife and residents of the County.”
SB19-181 expressly removes clauses of preemption and in fact empowers local governments to create and implement regulations that protect public health, safety, welfare, environment and wildlife resources. LOGIC, Larimer Alliance and associated community groups request that Larimer County do the following:
• incorporate clear language regarding the intent of the County’s oil and gas regulations;
• eliminate the use of phrases here and throughout the regulations that allow loopholes with regard to protection of public health, safety, and the environment;
• and clearly assert its right to reject or deny and/or to condition any and all permit applications in a manner that prevents adverse impacts to public health, safety, welfare, and the environment.
Section 17.2 -- Required Process and Permits
Section 17.2 begins by referring all oil and gas permitting Larimer County Code of Ordinances 4.5: Special Review and Minor Special Review with “Supplemental Review” criteria. Current development of oil and gas using unconventional hydraulic fracturing methods poses significant immediate impacts and nuisances to surrounding neighborhoods; community assets such as shopping centers, schools, and playgrounds; and to local infrastructure such as roads and electrical grids.
We find that the minimalist “Special Review and Minor Special Review requirements”, as well as the “Supplemental Review” criteria in 17.2.B neglect to include public notice or process regarding new oil and gas proposals. Also, they are void of an array of materials required by a number of other Colorado county governments that would allow the County to fully review and vet an oil and gas site proposal to protect public health, safety, welfare, the environment, and wildlife resources in a manner consistent with SB19-181.
We recommend, at minimum:
• The development of specific land use provisions to clearly establish standards for a proposed new oil and gas site to include a minimum 2,000 foot setback from homes, high occupancy buildings (such as hospitals and schools), residential areas, flood plains, air inversion areas, and water sources. This would include use of COGCC maps of underground structure.
• The development of a land use process and special use review process that is entirely specific to new and existing oil and gas development and infrastructure.
• The development of a public process for each new oil and gas facility that includes:
o At least 60 days-notice of the permit application to all residents, landowners, and
parents of school children attending a school within 1 mile of a proposed oil and gas site;
o Public disclosure of all required documents submitted to the County by the
o An independent environmental, financial, and risk analysis to be prepared and
presented to the County;
o A public neighborhood meeting, no less than 30 days prior to a hearing, to be
presented by the operator and administered by the county;
o A public hearing at the County Planning Commission;
o And finally, a public hearing and vote by the Larimer County Commissioners.
• A detailed process for the submission of required materials by the operator to the county; acceptance and acknowledgement of the required materials by the County; and detailed policy directing a process for evaluation that leads to a public accountability process.
• An affirmation of the right to deny, reject or to condition all proposed oil and gas projects within the County.
We finally recommend, in this section, (17.2.B) that a detailed list of required application materials, (as described in Section 17.5) be moved to Section 17.2.C. Also, this section should clearly define the required planning documentation. This documentation should ensure that the operator has a sense of the County’s standards regarding protection of public health, safety, the environment and wildlife resources. We suggest that the following documentation with the following definitions be included:
Section 17.3 -- Standards Required for All Oil and Gas Facilities
Whereas Section 17.3 outlines the County’s standards for oil and gas facilities, in keeping with the format proposed by the County, we offer the following changes and additions to the currently proposed County regulations:
• General : Paragraph 17.3.A.2 – we request this sentence be amended to include “agricultural operations, residential communities, schools, roadways and other infrastructure, surface water, wetlands, and natural areas.” and that a minimum 2,000 foot setback from all residential or high occupancy buildings, outdoor parks and rec, water bodies, and other environmentally sensitive areas be required.
• Air Quality: Southern Larimer County is in Colorado’s 8-hour ozone non-attainment area. Oil and gas development is a top contributor of greenhouse gas emissions. Larimer County residents deserve innovative local regulatory measures that prioritize their public health, and the development of stringent air quality monitoring programs are one of the paramount ways to protect public health and safety.
o Changes to the current draft regulations:
▪ Sections 17.3.B.1-3 describe that the County is requiring compliance with COGCC, CDPHE, AQCC, and EPA air quality emissions standards. In order to protect public health, we ask that the county require certification of this compliance from operators.
▪ INSTAAR continuous monitoring equipment be installed by the county at operator expense, with live monitoring available online.
▪ Provision 17.3.B.3 allows non-compliance with basic EPA Reduced Emission Completions for completions and workovers, however allows for exceptions when this is economically infeasible or impracticable. Whereas, unmonitored, completed oil and gas sites have a tendency to leak, therefore we request that the County first eliminate the “feasibility and practicability” loopholes and simply require that operators comply with this basic EPA Reduced Emissions Standard.
▪ We seek the removal of loophole language in Section 17.3.B.4 regarding “economic feasibility and practicability” with regard to closed loop, pitless drilling, completions systems without permanent on-site storage tanks.” Such provisions, as well as the prohibition of the use of flares, should be required practices within the County for the protection of Larimer County’s air quality and public health.
▪ The use of electric drill rigs, engines, and production equipment (Section 17.3.B.4-5) is a standard requirement in at least half a dozen local jurisdictions across the Front Range. We seek that Larimer County follow this standard and require the use of electric drill rigs and production equipment and eliminate the use of all loophole (“economically feasible and practical”) language.
▪ While the intention of provision 17.3.B.6 to ensure compliance with State Regulations regarding motors, engines, and other equipment is helpful, the inclusion of “exploration” regarding oil and gas development ambiguously opens the door to consideration of exploratory drilling permits within Larimer County, and while this code is intended to address oil and gas permitting, the inclusion of exploratory drilling permitting in Larimer County should be treated as entirely separate, if allowed at all.
▪ The requirements regarding air quality action days in Section 17.3.B.7 are thorough. However, we ask that delivery of a report of these air pollution reduction measures be presented to the county within 30 days following the air pollution reduction day OR if air pollution action days occur in succession, within 30 days of the conclusion of the succession of air pollution action days.
o Additions: While the provisions in the Air Quality section of the County’s draft regulations are a start, we strongly encourage that the County take seriously the charge of protecting public health, safety, and the environment when it regards oil and gas. Stringent provisions and regulations around air quality at oil and gas sites is foundational to protecting public health and safety. We recommend that the County incorporate further detail and provisions in its code regarding Air Quality and oil and gas as such:
▪ We ask that the County begin the section (17.3.B.) asserting the intention that “New Oil and Gas Operations shall not degrade air quality and shall prevent adverse impacts to public health, safety, and welfare and the environment and provide evidence of such compliance in the provisions that follow.”
▪ In Section 17.3.B.1, we request that the County further spell out the compliance with EPA, CDPHE, and COHCC standards regarding air emissions, and take steps further to comply with the 2017 CDC Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry and US EPA Integrated Risk Information System ambient Air quality guidelines. Additionally add compliance with all OSHA work practice requirements regarding benzene exposure.
▪ Flaring shall be prohibited other than during emergencies or upset conditions, and all flaring shall be reported to the County. If flaring is required, all flares, thermal oxidizers, or combustion devices shall be designed and operated to the manufacturer specification of 98% destruction removal efficiency or better.
▪ Use of open pits shall be prohibited.
▪ The County should conduct onsite baseline air quality monitoring ahead of all oil and gas permitting considerations, and should require annual Leak Detection and Repair inspections. The results of these inspections and annual onsite air quality monitoring should be reported to the County.
▪ For Operators with existing oil and gas operations within Larimer County, demonstrate that the Operation will not result in any increase of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from Operator’s existing and planned Operations in the County.
▪ The County requires in Section 17.B that operators “demonstrate hydrocarbon destruction and control efficiency by using an enclosed combustion device that complies with a design destruction efficiency of 98% or better”.
▪ Implement best management practices during liquids unloading (i.e. maintenance activities to remove liquids from existing wells that are
inhibiting production) including at least 95% emissions reductions when utilizing combustion and installation of artificial lift or unloading through the separator where feasible.
▪ Implement “tankless” production techniques.
▪ Obtain electrification from the power grid or from renewable sources for all equipment that can be electrified.
▪ Install, calibrate, operate, and maintain any flare, auto ignition system, recorder, vapor recovery device or other equipment used to meet hydrocarbon destruction or control efficiency requirement in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations, instructions, and operating manuals.
▪ Use of telemetric control and monitoring systems, including surveillance monitors to detect when pilot lights or control devices are extinguished.
▪ Reduction of emissions from oil and gas maintenance activities such as pigging or blowdowns.
▪ Require 48-hours notice of any maintenance or emergency condition requiring venting.
▪ Centralize compression facilities within a well site.
▪ All venting of exhaust should be done in an upward direction or away from any occupied structure closest to such equipment.
▪ Establishment of shutdown protocols, approved by the County, with notification and inspection provisions to ensure safe shut-down and timely notification to resident, neighborhoods, and parents of school children within one mile.
▪ Conduct ongoing maintenance checks of all equipment to minimize the potential for gaseous or liquid leaks.
▪ Minimize truck traffic to and from the site.
▪ Hydrocarbon control of 98% or better for crude oil, condensate, and produced water tanks with uncontrolled actual emissions of VOCs greater than two TPY VOCs.
▪ Use of no-bleed continuous and intermittent pneumatic devices.
▪ Consolidation of compression facilities within a well pad site.
▪ A full root cause analysis of any Grade 1 gas leaks.
▪ Use of other best management practices to control emissions as they become available.
• Leak Detection and Repair
o Section 17.3.D is a standard start to Leak Detection and Repair Requirements;
however, we strongly recommend that provision 17.3.D.4 require that all leaks be repaired, with an expedient timeline for repair and inspection of that repair reported to the county.
o Further, given that leaks and spills at oil and gas sites pose a threat to public
health, safety and the environment, not just those that pose an “imminent hazard to persons, property, wildlife or the environment,” the County should exercise its right to require that any oil and gas well with an identified leak shall be shut down and not allowed to operate until the operator has provided evidence that the leak has been repaired if an immediate timeline for repair is not identified by the operator.
o Additions: It is incumbent on Larimer County to ensure that the public’s right to know about leaks and spills is being met. Leaks at oil and gas sites pose a risk to public health and safety. We ask that the County add to Section 17.3.D an additional bullet regarding public notification, and make information regarding all leaks and spills at oil and gas sites available to the public
• Spills and Releases: To protect public health and safety, Larimer County must take further steps and institute further requirements of oil and gas operators regarding spills, response and reporting to Section 17.3.D.
o Changes to what is proposed: Within Section 17.3.D.1, we seek details regarding how this information will be noticed appropriately to emergency response and nearby residents as well as to parents of school children attending schools within one mile. We further recommend that this section include a place within the County website, where information regarding spills and releases be made publicly available.
o Additions: We recommend that Section 17.3.D be fleshed out further to include:
▪ A provision that any operator in Larimer County demonstrate the ability to control and contain and repair all spills and releases of exploration and production waste.
▪ Publicly available records of spills and releases that further detail timelines, exposure, and any findings from subsequent investigations of a spill.
▪ A requirement that the Form 19 Spill Release Report (required by the COGCC) and the Form 23 Loss of Well Control Report be filed with the LGD and made available to the public when it is submitted to the LGD.
Further, the Operator shall provide a topographical map showing the location of the spill, any measures regarding immediate mitigation, site investigation and remediation that follow these forms.
▪ Spills and releases that breach containment measures exceeding one barrel of Exploration and Production Waste or produced fluids shall be reported to the Local Government Designee (LGD) and made publicly available within 24 hours.
▪ Spills and releases impacting or threatening any waters of the state, residences or occupied structures, livestock, or public byways shall be verbally reported to the LGD within 24 hours, with a written follow-up notice within 48 hours. Documentation of this reporting shall be provided to the public.
▪ Spills and releases of any size which impact or threaten to impact any water supply area shall be reported to the Colorado Environmental Spill Reporting Hotline at 1-877-518-5608 and to the LGD immediately upon discovery. The LGD shall make appropriate notifications to emergency response and water management teams and systems, and within 24 hours shall make this information available to the public.
▪ Operator will submit copies of all reports required by state and federal agencies to the LGD, who will make these available to the public.
▪ Operator shall use steel rimmed berms to surround the project with a capacity of 150% of the largest on site temporary storage tank.
• Noise o Throughout 17.3.F, we seek that the County amend its language regarding
baseline noise testing distances and ongoing noise mitigation to:
▪ Baseline testing of noise levels at 350, 500, and 1,000 feet from any oil and gas site to the nearest property line in Section 17.3.F.1
▪ In Section 17.3.F.4, we seek that the language be amended to test decibel levels intermittently at each phase throughout active drilling and completion at 350, 500, and 1,000 feet from any oil and gas site to the nearest property line.
o Whereas, increasing evidence suggests detrimental impacts to public health
regarding significant changes to ambient noise, we ask that Section 17.3.F.5 be adjusted as follows:
▪ Noise levels should be measured per COGCC Rule 802 b & c, except no measurements shall be taken when traffic is passing the sound meter.
▪ For db(C) scale noise, Operator will comply with the requirements of COGCC Rule 802.
▪ Continuous monitoring from four sides of the facility, set at 350, 500, and 1,000 feet from the sound wall shall be required, within residential/agricultural/rural and commercial zoned areas.
▪ Residential/Agricultural/Rural and Commercial Zoned areas should NOT be subject to “Industrial” scale noise requirements during the construction or completion phases of oil and gas facilities/installation or pipeline construction. Instead, we offer further provisions below regarding noise mitigation requirements.
o Detailed noise mitigation is an imperative component in the development of oil
and gas regulations that are truly intended to protect public health, safety, welfare, the environment, and wildlife resources. We offer the following additions for consideration within the “Noise” requirements section (17.3.F) to minimize and mitigate impacts to public health and safety:
▪ Use of sound controlled drilling and fracking equipment, including quiet fleets that reduce the noise of the pumps and motors associated with hydraulic fracturing.
▪ Noise modeling for each well site during all phases of operation, including pre-construction noise modeling that shall be conducted by a third party consultant hired by the County in all areas zoned Residential/Agricultural/Rural and Commercial. Results of modeling shall be submitted to the County and made publicly available.
▪ In Residential/Agricultural/Rural and Commercially zoned areas, no well shall be drilled, re-drilled, or equipment operated in a manner so as to create noise which causes exterior noise levels that
▪ Exceed the ambient noise level by more than (5) five decibels during daytime hours and more than three (3) decibels during nighttime hours.
▪ Exceed the ambient noise level by more than ten (10) decibels over the daytime average ambient noise level during fracturing operations during daytime hours. No fracturing shall be allowed during nighttime hours except for flowback operations related to fracturing.
▪ Exceed the ambient noise level by more than three (3) decibels during flowback operations during nighttime hours.
▪ Creates pure tones where one-third octave band sound-pressure level in the band with the tone exceeds the arithmetic average of
the sound pressure levels of two contiguous one-third octave bands by five (5) dB for center frequencies of 500 Hertz and above, and by eight (8) dB for center frequencies less than or equal to 125 Hertz or
▪ Creates low-frequency outdoor noise levels that exceed dB levels:
-16Hz Octave band 65 dB
-31.5 Hz Octave band 65 dB
-64 Hz Octave band 65 dB
▪ The Operator shall establish and report to the LGD a continuous 72 hour pre-drilling ambient noise level prior to the issuance of a permit. The 72- hour time span shall include at least one 24-hour reading during a weekend. The Operator shall use the prior established ambient noise level for the installation of any new noise generation equipment unless the Operator can demonstrate that the increase in the ambient noise level is not associated with drilling and production activities located either on-site or off-site.
o All workover operations should be restricted to daytime hours only.
o The exterior noise level generated by drilling, redrilling, and other operations of
all wells located within 500 feet of a Residential/Agricultural/Rural or Commercial zoned adrea shall be continuously monitored for compliance. The cost of monitoring shall be borne by the Operator.
o The County shall create a complaint line for the purposes of health and nuisance complaints. All noise complaints shall, within 24-hours of a noise complaint, necessitate communications with the operator and the LGD, under which noise sampling shall be conducted, and if the noise level is outside of county-required decibel levels for specific zoning uses, the operator shall address and immediately mitigate the issue. The Operator then will be charged with reporting on any and all mitigation measures to the County. When notice is given that the issue has been mitigated, noise sampling shall be conducted once more by a third-party testing entity (agreed to by the County) 24 hours later to ensure that the issue has truly been mitigated and addressed.
• Vibration: The new regulation fails to address vibration caused by oil and gas activities and development. Whereas, such activity has a significant impact to local residents, and can cause issues with building infrastructure such as residential plumbing and foundations, we seek that the county develop regulations regarding vibration when it comes to oil and gas activity. At the very least, we seek that with regard to vibration:
▪ The County require instrumentation and reporting of all vibration within 500 feet for existing oil and gas wells and 2,000 feet for all new oil and
gas development from an abutting residential or commercial development that measures the intensity and seismic impact of all vibration. These readings should further be made publicly available.
▪ We ask that Larimer County restrict the intensity of all vibrations within 2,000 feet of residential and commercial areas, as well as within 2,000 feet of all Larimer County water sources.
▪ We seek that all seismic events that measure above 1.0 on the Richter scale be immediately reported to the County and to the COGCC. If vibrations exceed 2.0 on the Richter scale, the County may stop operations immediately until the operator satisfies the County in taking actions to mitigate the work.
• Odors: Exposure to odors from oil and gas development is an initial sign of chemical exposure, and may have acute impacts to public health. The County draft regulations regarding odor allow for potential unmitigated exposure and risk public health. We offer the following additions:
o The County shall create a public comment portal, that will also be filed with the
COGCC, where the county will also file complaints.
o The County shall notify the Operator no less than 24 hours after receiving an odor
o County Health Department workers shall conduct an evening and morning odor
inspection at 350 ft, 500 ft, 1,000 ft, and 2,000 ft from the oil and gas site. Further, the County will account for wind speed and direction and make further inspections based on air stream conditions.
o For existing oil and gas sites, no emission of odorous gases or other odorous matter shall be permitted in quantities readily detectable in residential or commercially zoned areas.
o Gibson D-822 is prohibited, in the comments section on the Form 2A, LGD shall
request the disclosure of water based, low odor fluids.
o All oil and gas sites are required to utilize filtration systems to minimize odors,
however, use of odor-masking chemicals or fragrances should be prohibited.
• Dust: The dust suppression section 17.3.H is comprehensive, we only seek that dust suppression tactics (water only) be utilized within at least 1,000 feet of the high water mark of any body of water in 17.3.H.4.
• Access: Regarding Section 17.3.I.1, we seek the addition of a bullet (17.3.I.1.e), requiring that the Operator shall be required to clean up any mud or debris that reaches the road way, within 24 hours of identification (through complaint or other means), to the satisfaction of the County LGD.
• Chemical Handling: Chemicals used and stored at an oil and gas site pose a definitive risk to public health, safety, and the environment. The County has done a good job in requiring a chemical disclosure list. We recommend that the operator be required to:
o Present the County with a list of chemicals to be used in the hydraulic fracturing
process, in table format including: the name, Chemical Abstracts Service number, storage, containment, and disposal method for such chemicals to be used, which the County shall make available to the public.
o We ask that chemicals used on site be removed from the site within (30) thirty
days following completion of hydraulic fracturing.
• Recycle, Reuse, and Disposal of Fluids: The recycling, reuse, and disposal of fluids also poses a definitive risk to public health, safety, and the environment. We ask that the County:
o Remove the clauses in Section 17.3.K.1 and Section 17.3.K.3 “unless technically
• Water Bodies: Water bodies are extremely susceptible to impacts from oil and gas operations. Impacts to a variety of water bodies pose serious risk to public health, safety, welfare, and the environment. We recommend that, in Section 17.3.L, in addition to the requirements already in the draft rules, operators be required to do the following:
o Not cause adverse impacts to surface or ground water resources within Larimer
o Provide a water quality plan to Larimer County that includes details such as the operator’s plans for water quality testing, prevention of illicit or inadvertent discharges, stormwater discharge management, containment of pollutants, and spill notification and response as required by relevant state and federal agencies.
o Provide, upon their approval by COGCC, their plans concerning downhole
construction details and installation practices, including casing and cementing design to protect surface water and aquifers from contamination.
• Visual: The visual aesthetic regarding residential and even commercially zoned areas play a significant role in property values, therefore, we seek the following amendments and additions to section 17.3.M:
o In Section 17.3.M.1, we seek that the county recognize the importance of visual
aesthetics to neighborhoods and residents in Larimer County, and include language in this provision that, “oil and gas operations shall not cause degradation to the scenic attributes and character of residentially zoned areas.
o Lighting at oil and gas sites is known to be a significant nuisance to surrounding
residents, and at times commercial areas; therefore, provision 17.3.M.3 regarding lighting should include the following requirements:
▪ Operator shall use best management practices to minimize light escaping the facility at all phases of oil and gas development. This includes during workover and lift operations:
▪ All lighting must be downward-facing and fully shielding bulbs to prevent light emissions above a horizontal plane drawn from the bottom of the fixture.
▪ Operator shall also take into account topography and location of downhill structures to avoid shining light into downhill properties.
▪ Operator shall use a minimum 32-foot wall to reduce light escaping the facility at all phases.
o We ask that the best industry standard fencing be required in Section 17.3.M.4 at
all oil and gas sites and for all independent surface equipment for the protection of public safety and for the security of the site.
o Current and proposed oil and gas development leaves a significant print on the
landscape. We ask that Section 17.3.M.5 regarding Landscaping require that:
▪ Any new or workover oil and gas development shall be conducted in a manner to prevent and minimize the removal of existing trees and vegetation.
▪ Operations shall be sited away from natural features and environmental resources including distinctive rock and land formations, rivers, streams, and distinctive vegetative patterns.
▪ Oil and gas shall be buffered from sensitive visual areas by providing landscaping along the perimeter of the site between surface equipment and sensitive visual or residential areas.
o Under Section 17.3.M.6, Weed mitigation and management at all oil and gas facilities and equipment sites must be required until final reclamation and abandonment.
• Well Plugging and Abandonment: In addition to complying with the COGCC’s plugging and abandonment requirements, we suggest additional points Larimer County can adopt to better protect public health, safety, welfare, and the environment. Regarding section 17.3.N, we seek these additions:
o Notice to the County LGD within 48 hours of both commencement and
completion of such activity.
o A requirement that an oil and gas operator notify the LGD of intent and
operations regarding well plug and abandonment. Further, the County should notify residents living within one mile of plug and abandonment activities.
o Upon plug and abandonment operations, the LGD and operator shall conduct an assessment identifying all active and abandoned wells within one mile of the planned reclamation site and conduct an assessment following completion of the plug and abandonment for leaks at nearby wells.
o Operator shall conduct a soil assessment at various depths and distances upon
plug and abandonment and report its findings to the county.
o Ongoing air quality monitoring shall be required at intermittent distances from
plug and abandonment site during plugging and abandonment.
o A decommissioned oil and gas assessment is performed prior to any hydraulic
fracturing, and at periods following hydraulic fracturing, of any site plugged, decommissioned, or removed from use, and dry and removed from use oil and gas wells within 1⁄4 miles of the borehole of the proposed well, to include:
▪ All abandoned wells within 1⁄4 mile of the projected track of the borehole of a proposed well based on COGCC and other publicly available records.
▪ A risk assessment of leaking gas or water or other fracking fluids to the surface or subsurface water resources, taking into account the plugging and cementing procedures described in any recompletion or plugged and abandoned report filed with the COGCC.
▪ Notice to the County and COGCC of the findings from this risk assessment.
▪ Permission from each surface owner with an abandoned well on their property to access the abandoned well to test the abandoned well. (Testing of a well would not be required if the operator does not receive permission from the relevant surface owner within 30 days. Operator must notify County of inability to access property prior to commencing hydraulic fracturing.)
▪ Soil gas surveys at various distances and depths as suggested by the risk assessment surrounding each abandoned well prior to hydraulic fracturing.
▪ Soil gas surveys at distances and depths as suggested by the risk assessment surrounding each abandoned well within 90 days after completion, and at least once a year after production has commenced.
▪ Notification to the County and COGCC within 3 weeks of the results of these surveys.
▪ In the event that contamination is detected in these surveys, not further operations may continue until the cause of the contamination has been determined and corrected, and the County has given its approval for operations to continue.
o Permanent, physical marking of the location of the abandoned well by setting a
brass plaque inscribed with all information required by the COGCC into concrete at the location of the abandoned well.
• Flowlines, Transfer Lines, and Gathering Lines: Flowlines, transfer lines, and gathering lines represent a significant amount of infrastructure mixed in communities and environmental resources. We seek these additions to Section 17.3.S:
o Clarify a setback, commensurate with blow out radiuses and blast radiuses for
existing and new pipeline systems, using the existing scientific formula established by industry (GRI-00/0189).
o Require thorough mapping of flowlines and gathering lines on a scale large
enough for real estate owners to discern lots.
o Develop protocol regarding approval of flowline and transfer line permits as a
part of all oil and gas applications.
o Develop a system under which the County planner and operator maintain a
current and comprehensive mapping system and database.
o Develop a series of setbacks and reverse setbacks from pipelines infrastructure
commensurate with their diameter and pressure and the risks posed to public health, safety, and environmental resources.
o Require regular leak detection inspections and pressure tests, as well as tests and
inspections upon request.
o Require that buried pipelines use tracer wire, so as to be sure of their location and
o Require that pipelines be buried by at least four feet of cover.
Section 17.4 -- Guidelines for Oil and Gas Development
Protection of public health, safety, welfare and the environment, as required by SB19-181, means that upon asserting local control, local governments should be clear about their standard of operating and performance regarding oil and gas development. We strongly recommend that the language in Section 17.4 be direct and explicit, avoiding ambiguity or subjectivity. We seek that the County adopt language, whereby, “the County requires” specific “guidelines” regarding current oil and gas development and proposals. Therefore, we ask that the County require:
• In Section 17.4.A.1 regarding air quality, require tankless production techniques as applicable, use zero emission dehydrators, use pressure suitable separator and vapor recovery units, use no-bleed continuous and intermittent pneumatic devices; the use of electric rigs and Tier 4 engines; use automated tank gauging, and prohibit flaring except during emergencies or upset conditions.
• We recommend that in Sections 17.4A.2 be moved to Section 17.3.G, and that the county review and adopt regulations similar to other jurisdictions such as Adams County or Gunnison County requiring best management practices and use of best technologies.
Section 17.5 -- Application Requirements and Definitions
Regarding Section 17.5, we ask that the county further define both the documentation it is requiring of operators applying for new oil and gas permits and flesh out section 17.10 applying definitions to terminology as most applicable to local governmental jurisdiction.
In closing, we ask Larimer County to make clear to current and potential oil and gas operators a standard of performance that prevents and, where impossible to prevent, mitigates adverse impacts to public health, safety, welfare and the environment. We also request that the County implement a transparent public process regarding current and proposed oil and gas operations across Larimer County.
To make clear that the priority of the County is the protection of public health, safety, welfare, the environment, and wildlife resources in Larimer County, LOGIC and the Larimer Alliance request the following of the government of Larimer County:
1. Implement a strong system of accountability that keeps the burden of oil and gas
development and its impacts from costing Larimer County taxpayers.
2. Develop a clear series of land use code regarding the siting of oil and gas development
that ensures that the public health, safety, welfare, and environmental resources of our county are not unduly jeopardized or at risk. This includes implementing a minimum 2,000 foot setback from all residential, high occupancy buildings, outdoor parks and rec, water bodies, and other environmentally sensitive areas. COGCC maps will be referenced for flowlines and gathering lines to be included in this setback.
3. Require standards of performance for operators that directly and definitively address air
quality, water quality, odor, light, noise, and traffic. This includes 24/7 air quality monitoring such as the well-proven INSTAAR equipment in use in Boulder County.
4. Remove loophole language that promotes ambiguity or allows unnecessary risk to public
health, safety, welfare, and the environment.
5. Assert by printed word and action the county’s intent to protect public health, safety,
welfare, and the environment. This includes a transparent and timely public process regarding oil and gas development in Larimer County.
6. And last, we point to our original request to place a hold on all oil and gas permitting
decisions until the COGCC has completed its rule making and Larimer County has subsequently developed a consistent, comprehensive system for addressing oil and gas.
Thank you for your consideration of these comments. We welcome further dialogue with commissioners and Larimer County staff. We stand ready to answer questions you have about the regulatory recommendations contained herein. Please contact any of the undersigned parties with questions you may have regarding these comments.
Executive Director, League of Oil and Gas Impacted Coloradans