Aurora officials prepped on stiff new drilling penalties

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AURORA  | The city’s Oil and Gas Committee met Wednesday to learn about the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission’s tough new penalties for operators who violate state regulations.

COGCC approved hefty penalties Monday that will allow the state to fine operators up to $15,000 a day who are in violation of the state’s oil and gas regulations. Last year, the state Legislature approved the increase beyond the initial limit of $1,000 per day.

“To go along with that we’ve revised our complaint process,” said Nancy Prince, a local government liaison with COGCC.

She said the commission revamped its website to make it easier for residents to file complaints against oil and gas operators online.

“In the past we took verbal complaints and turned them into (formal) complaints. Now we’re more emphatic that complaints have to be in writing, and we prefer them via our website tool,” she said. She said the complaint tool would be available on the COGCC website on Friday.

She said COGCC will accept complaints from anyone in the state who is directly affected by what they think is a violation of the commission’s rules. The commission will accept complaints for existing well sites and for those that are in the planning stages, she said.

She said individuals who file a complaint that turns out to be a violation will receive a copy of the draft notice two weeks before it is finalized.

“You’ll have a chance to comment on it. If you follow our process you have legal standing in the case,” she said.

She said there will also be followup once the complaint is resolved.

“Informally, we have let complainants know what has happened, but now the complainant will get a letter saying this is what was done to address your complaint,” she said.

In December, Aurora City Council members approved changes to local oil and gas regulations to allow for taller vapor towers and to put the city on the same page as what the state requires, despite protests from residents who live near a growing number of fracking sites.

The most affected neighborhoods are Adonea and Murphy Creek where residents have protested against the drilling amendments and the city leasing mineral rights to ConocoPhillips for well sites near their homes.

Residents don’t have to worry about a surge in well sites for now, said Stephen Rodriguez, a senior planner with the city. He said low prices at the pump have correlated with a near standstill in oil and gas development near Aurora’s eastern neighborhoods.

“The applications in the vicinity of Adonea are what I term ‘on hold.’ That’s per the applicant, who everybody knows is ConocoPhllips,” he said. 

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reader
reader
6 years ago

approved permit applications are good for FIVE years. They will be back!

parched
parched
6 years ago
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You betcha! So now is the time to learn more and Organize — Check out the film “Groundswell Rising” to be shown FREE at Aurora Central Library on Alameda at 10:30 am on Saturday, January 24 & also get an intro to one of our solutions: Colorado Community Rights Network.