State sues Longmont over oil and gas drilling regulations, Colorado Attorney General’s office objects to eight provisions, including residential drilling ban

State sues Longmont over oil and gas drilling regulations, Colorado Attorney General’s office objects to eight provisions, including residential drilling ban by Scott Rochat Longmont, July 30, 2012, Times-Call
The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission sued the city of Longmont on Monday, saying the city’s new oil and gas rules trespassed into areas meant to be governed by the state. The lawsuit was filed Monday afternoon in Boulder County District Court. In it, assistant attorney general Jake Matter asked the court to kill several of the new regulations, including a restriction against drilling in residential areas. “No possible construction of the disputed provisions of the ordinance can be harmonized with the state regulatory regime,” Matter wrote in the lawsuit. The Longmont City Council passed the rules on July 17 by a 5-2 vote, its first update of the city’s drilling rules since 2000. The regulations became effective Monday. … The state announced last week that it would sue, a decision that surprised no one on the council. “In the end, our job is to protect the city of Longmont and its residents,” Councilman Gabe Santos said last week. The case is believed to be the first time the COGCC has sued a community over oil and gas rules. Cities and towns have been sued on the issue before, but typically by oil and gas companies or private landowners. In the lawsuit, Matter laid out eight concerns the state has. Two are among the best-known provisions in the new law: The city can require water-quality monitoring until five years after the well is abandoned, if necessary, and surface drilling would be banned in residential areas. An operator can ask for an exception to the drilling ban if the restriction would make it impossible to access the company’s mineral rights. … The state also objected to the city’s rules for wildlife protection and its required separation distance, or setback, between wells and a wildlife or riparian area. … The state also asks the court to strike down: … A requirement to fully disclose any hazardous materials transported on city roadways.

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