The Adams County Board of Commissioners voted 3-2 Tuesday to enact a six-week moratorium on new fracking development in high density urban areas.
Commissioner Eva Henry proposed the motion during a public hearing. For 45 days, the county will not issue new permits for wells or well pads within 1500 feet of homes, schools or public buildings inside Adams County urban growth boundaries.
The Board will use that time to consult with an attorney and consider revisions to its current county-industry extraction agreement, or memo of understanding. Drilling companies that sign MOU’s agree to more stringent regulations in exchange for an expedited permit process.
Commissioner Steve O’Dorisio, who supported the moratorium, cautioned against extreme MOU revisions. “If we have an MOU that industry doesn’t want to sign, then it ain’t worth anything,” he said.
Tuesday’s ruling comes two weeks after a contentious, well-attended public hearing which addressed a proposed 10-month countywide moratorium. At that hearing, industry leaders stressed the economic importance of natural gas development and community members voiced concerns about their health and safety.
Adams County is just the latest in a string of local governments contending with this issue. State law prohibits local bans on fracking, leaving municipalities with little power to oppose oil and gas development. Broomfield, Fort Collins, Lafayette and Longmont have all been sued by the Colorado Oil and Gas Association after they passed moratoriums.
Maria Orms, a resident of Adams County, remains frustrated at the lack of options. “Communities have chosen moratoriums because it is the only option given to them by the state. If the COGCC was true to their mission of protecting the health and safety of Colorado citizens, we would not be here.”
In a public Facebook post following the vote, Commissioner Erik Hanson called the vote “shameless and disingenuous political pandering during an election year.”
Before voting against the moratorium, Commissioner Jan Pawlowski said, “We’re going to be sued. This is not going to work out like you think.”
Photo credit: Kelsey Ray