Stage 1 fire restrictions, enacted for unincorporated areas of western Boulder County.

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June 28, 2019

Commissioners enact emergency moratorium on new oil and gas development applications and seismic testing

Unless modified at a future public hearing, the moratorium shall remain in effect until March 28, 2020. A public hearing to accept public testimony and take formal action on the temporary moratorium is scheduled for Tuesday, July 16 at 4 p.m.

(Boulder County, Colo.) -- At a public meeting today (watch 7-min video), the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) approved Resolution 2019-59 enacting an Emergency Temporary Moratorium on the accepting and processing of new oil and gas development applications and seismic testing in unincorporated Boulder County. Unless modified at a future public hearing, the moratorium will remain in effect until March 28, 2020.

The county commissioners approved the temporary moratorium in order to give staff time to pursue changes to the county’s existing oil and gas regulations in light of SB19-181 and to address public health and safety issues related to oil and gas development operations as authorized by the BOCC on June 4 so that any new applications to drill could be reviewed under the most protective, updated regulations.

It’s our duty and responsibility as county commissioners to do everything we can to fully safeguard the environment and people of Boulder County. To that end, it’s critical that we impose an emergency moratorium today to ensure that our regulations are as strong as they can be under the new law and that any industry proposals to drill or frack here are reviewed under these updated protections.

- Board of County Commissioners Chair Elise Jones

SB 181 gives us an opportunity to regulate oil and gas activity in Boulder County in the way that we feel protects the public’s health and safety and safeguards the welfare of the environment for the people who live here. It also allows us to respond to the consistent and vocal concerns of residents who want us to put these essential protections in place.

- Board of County Commissioners Vice-Chair Deb Gardner

It’s critical that we protect Boulder County residents to the full extent of the law. This moratorium will give us the needed time to create the strongest rules we can after the change in state law that prioritizes protection over profit.

- Boulder County Commissioner Matt Jones.

The BOCC enacted the temporary emergency moratorium on June 28 but has scheduled a public hearing for July 16 to provide the public with advanced notice and an opportunity for comments and testimony.

July 16 Public Hearing

The commissioners will hold a public hearing on Tuesday, July 16 at 4 p.m. to accept public testimony and to make any changes to the temporary moratorium that may be necessary. At the public hearing, staff will provide more information about the time needed to complete the requested research into public health and safety protections allowable under SB19-181 and to develop the proposed regulations.

Based on that information and public testimony, the BOCC will then determine whether to extend, terminate, or further amend the temporary moratorium.

  • What: Board of County Commissioners’ Public Hearing to take testimony on the merits of the temporary moratorium on oil and gas development applications and seismic testing in unincorporated Boulder County and to determine whether the moratorium should be extended, terminated, or further amended.
  • When: Tuesday, July 16 at 4 p.m.
  • Where: Boulder County Courthouse, 1325 Pearl St., Third Floor, Boulder (map)
  • Webstream: Open Meeting Portal

Public Testimony

Online Sign-up for Speaking Times at the Public Hearing: On Tuesday, July 2 at 10 a.m., the online sign-up forms for Individual Speakers and Pooled-Time Speakers will become available at All sign-ups will be placed in order based on the time they are received. Those wishing to sign up for pooled time will need to include the names and addresses for anyone donating time to the pool.

In-Person Speaker Sign-ups: Members of the public will be able to speak at the hearing whether or not they have signed up online in advance of the hearing. In-person speaker sign-ups will be taken beginning one-hour in advance of the hearing start time and will include individual speakers and pooled-time speakers. Anyone who signs up in-person at the time of the hearing will be placed in the queue following the online signups. The county commissioners will continue to take public testimony until all speakers have had an opportunity to comment.

Written comments may be submitted to or mailed to the Boulder County Commissioners’ Office, P.O. Box 471, Boulder, CO 80306. Comments must be received by 8 a.m. on Monday, July 15 in order to be considered by the Board of County Commissioners prior to the July 16 public hearing.


On April 11, 2017, the Board of County Commissioners adopted a resolution enacting the strongest set of regulations on oil and gas development in the State of Colorado. Since that date, no applications have been filed with the Boulder County Land Use Department to seek a permit for oil and gas development. Recently, however, an oil and gas operator indicated an interest in applying for a drilling permit with Boulder County.

On June 4, 2019, the commissioners authorized Boulder County staff to work on Docket DC-19-0002 Amendments to Article 12 of the Land Use Code which addresses oil and gas development in unincorporated Boulder County. The June 4 meeting was held to consider an update to the county’s oil and gas regulations following the passage of SB19-181 which prioritizes the local protection of public safety, health, welfare, and the environment in the regulation of the oil and gas industry and grants additional authority to local governments to regulate oil and gas development.

Staff intends to work on changes to the current set of oil and gas regulations as time and resources allow. It is anticipated that the Article 12 revisions will require significant staff time from multiple departments

For updates and information about the county’s role in oil and gas development, visit the county’s Oil and Gas Development webpage. Notices of future meeting and hearings will also be sent to the county’s Oil and Gas News list (signup via email or mobile number).