Rifle updates oil and gas regulations

Rifle updates oil and gas regulations

RIFLE, Colo. – Could oil and gas drilling possibly occur within city limits?

It’s not likely, but Rifle City Council members have initially passed a revised ordinance that updates their current oil and gas ordinances and comes into compliance with state law.

“What we’re doing is updating our oil and gas regulations, which were first written in 1981,” said Mayor Keith Lambert. “Some of the provisions in the original documents from the 1980s are in violation of state regulations.”

And with the energy industry getting closer and closer to city limits, Lambert said the city feels it’s only a matter of time before somebody wants to drill within city limits.

The new ordinance, which was passed by council members unanimously on first reading, will now include the state regulations, which require a well site or production facility to have at least a 350-foot setback from any occupied building; be located not less than 150 feet from any public road, major underground utility or railroad; and 150 feet from any surface property line, unless an exception has been granted by the Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, which acts as the state’s regulating agency.

“There is nothing we can do about state regulations,” said deputy city attorney Jim Neu. “There is no drilling within city limits now and what saves us (from drilling in a residential backyard), is the 350 setback limit.”

However, Neu pointed out that in accordance with state law, there are certain properties that are within Rifle’s city limits that could possibly be drilled, including the West UMTRA site or even the 13-acre site for the new Colorado Mountain College campus off Airport Road.

“But I can’t think of anywhere in the city where (the industry) would try,” Neu said.

Lambert also suggested that the city revisit the proposed drilling application fee of $1,000 and require an annual inspection of drilling sites.

“The only recommendation I have is that the application fee is not sufficient,” Lambert said. “Part of the rationale of the application fee is that it helps mitigate the impacts that would take place. I think $1,000 is not enough to mitigate the impacts that will take place on our city streets. And those impacts are going to be greater than we can afford.”

Council members will look at a second reading of the revised ordinance at their next City Council meeting on Dec. 20.

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