December 22, 2021
Boulder County Oil and Gas Update: Fewer Active Wells in Boulder County in 2021
Boulder County remains committed to protecting public health, safety and welfare, the environment and wildlife
Boulder County, Colo. - Boulder County’s adoption and implementation of new oil and gas regulations in December 2020 are yielding benefits for people and the environment in 2021.
No operators have applied to the county to drill on lands in the county in 2021 and no such applications are pending at the state level. Boulder County also remains active in state agency rulemakings, which are progressing toward greater protections for air quality, the environment, and public health and safety.
Here are some specific news items from this past year:
- New Article 12 (of the Boulder County Land Use Code) regulations went into effect and have governed operators throughout 2021.
- After a long, complicated rule-making in which the county participated actively, new Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) rules, which the county supported, went into effect and tightened requirements and scrutiny on oil and gas operations from their start to the end of their lives.
- Operators have registered with Boulder County and submitted information on existing and new oil and gas development.
- The county received $454,094 from operators in the first set of annual registration fees under Article 12.
- The county purchased its own infrared camera for inspecting and monitoring air quality impacts at oil and gas facilities.
- County staff has conducted dozens of air quality inspections of existing sites.
- Operators have been performing their own monthly inspections of their sites and providing the results of those inspections to the county as required under the County’s new regulations.
- The county hired an outside environmental consultant, ERO Resources, to assist in analyzing operator monthly and other reports.
- County staff is improving the county’s inspection program with new or additional staff and expertise to allow for frequent, comprehensive inspections.
- 40 wells were plugged and abandoned in 2021, 25 on county open space or lands with county conservation easement protections, leaving Boulder County with just over 200 active wells. All of these are older vertical wells that do not employ modern horizonal drilling techniques.
- Four operators plugged or will soon be plugging their last wells, marking the end of their operations in Boulder County.
- The county has received no indication of new oil and gas development plans.
- County staff actively participated and advocated for strengthened rules at both COGCC and the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission (AQCC).
Boulder County remains committed to protecting public health, safety, and welfare, and the environment and wildlife resources from adverse impacts of oil and gas operations. View more information related to oil and gas issues in the county, or subscribe to news updates via email or text.