Presentations will educate residents on state rules while soliciting feedback for local revisions
La Plata County will host two topic-based oil and gas rewrite workshops next week to discuss improving the natural resources chapter of the 2020 land use code.
According to a La Plata County press release, when the new land use code was passed in 2020, Chapter 90 regarding natural resources was intentionally omitted because Colorado had just begun an extensive development process. of rules regarding oil and gas development prompted by the Senate bill. 181 in 2019.
The bill prioritizes the protection of public safety, health, welfare and the environment by amending oil and gas laws and clarifying various aspects of the regulatory authority of governments on the surface impacts of oil and gas development.
The workshops will take place at 6:30 p.m. on Monday and 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday in the council chambers of the County Administration Building and can also be viewed on Zoom.
Both sessions will include a presentation from RPI Consulting, with the first session analyzing land use code changes involving natural resources and how state regulations have created these changes. The second session will discuss the application process and application submission requirements. It will examine long-term monitoring procedures and financial guarantees for oil and gas facilities.
RPI Consulting Director Gabe Preston said the review of the Gas and Oil Code chapter of the Land Use Code is a nuanced process, so the presentations will give attendees the opportunity to make comments and ask questions.
He said the code will only apply to private lands in La Plata County and will not impact surrounding municipalities.
One of the standards that the workshop will seek to characterize is that of natural and geological risks. These hazards include avalanches, landslides, falling rocks, falling mud or unstable slopes.
“It basically says new oil and gas development is not allowed in geohazard areas,” Preston said. “Which is not entirely different from the old code, which stated that large installations are not allowed in geological hazard areas.”
The discussions of the first session will focus on the standards of the old code which will be more precise in the revision.
Preston uses noxious weed management as an example. He said the land use code details a noxious weed control plan, but the oil and gas chapter does not.
He said the noxious weed management chapter of the land use code gives notching prevention techniques, revegetation standards and mechanical removal management practices. That’s the kind of specificity the county is trying to add with the new oil and gas code.
“It’s kind of a good example of a lot of changes in the draft oil and gas code,” Preston said. “It’s just to clarify the standards on a topic that was covered more generally in the old code.”
Other topics that will be discussed are waste disposal, security, safety and protection of roads and infrastructure.
The second workshop will cover the oil and gas application process and submission requirements. One of the adaptations made is that the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission requires a series of reports and analyzes based on the impacts the site may have on the surrounding lands.
“Some of these reports that are submitted for the state license are going to be about what the county is looking at,” he said.
He will discuss the submission requirements for two different types of permits: a minor permit and a major permit.
Developments eligible for a Minor Oil and Gas Permit include an individual well pad with one or more wells operated to produce liquid petroleum or natural gas, pipelines that extend more than a quarter mile and temporary sites in place for less than six months.
Preston said a minor permit does not require a public hearing.
Developments that qualify for a major oil and gas license will also be considered a type of major land use license and will be reviewed and approved by council. Developments such as centralized facilities, centralized water transfer stations, or permanent ancillary equipment with a cumulative brake horsepower of 200 or more are considered major permit uses.
Preston said these requirements were previously in the land use code, but now may be subject to other requirements imposed by the COGCC.
“Because gas and oil are a different type of development, they are going to have different types of reporting than would be required for a two-lot subdivision,” he said.