Adams County Commissioners in Colorado voted 5-0 to approve a new six-month moratorium on oil and natural gas permits. At hastily put together meeting on March 21 — the county gave only a 24-hour notice — the Colorado Oil and Gas Association (CAGA) said an “overwhelming public response from Adams County residents” spoke out against the temporary ban. 

The vote was the result of the ongoing legislative procession of State Bill 19-181, which would tighten regulation on the oil and gas industry and give local governments land use authority to regulate the siting of oil and gas locations and to regulate land use and surface impacts.

SB 19-181 has been rushed through the General Assembly in a similar fashion, entering committee only three days after introduction.

“Politics trumped policy as the uncertainty surrounding Senate Bill 181 spilled out of the statehouse and led to its first moratorium. The flaws within this bill are apparent and must be corrected, or we’ll see this uncertainty and confusion spread,” said Dan Haley, president and CEO of COGA, in a statement.  

“Colorado’s oil and natural gas workforce is second to none, adhering to the toughest regulations in the country, and if our elected leaders pause long enough to look at the data, they would see that ours is one of the safest industries in the nation, and that we are in fact part of the climate solution, as emission numbers continue to drop. 

“The temporary ban—passed before SB 181 has even cleared the statehouse—wasn’t needed. It sends a negative message to businesses and workers in Adams County and could have a chilling effect on the economy. Our members have worked openly and cooperatively with Adams County in the past on such matters and we hope that they include us in their discussions in the coming months. Oil and natural gas production is important to Adams County, its economy and its tax base and we shouldn’t play these types of games with something that important.”

Adams County commissioner Steve O’Dorisio told Colorado Public Radio (CPR), “The moratorium is simply going to be a timeout from the new permits,” That time will allow us to be able to make the changes to our regulations after the Senate Bill 181 is put into effect. And the reason why we need that timeout is because we want to make sure that the process of amending those regulations would be well thought out.”

Adams County also placed a moratorium on oil and gas a  month before the mid-term election in November in anticipation of Proposition 112, would have imposed a 2,500-foot setback on operations from homes and schools. The ballot measure was rejected by Colorado voters by a 14 point margin.

The Adams County moratorium will affect six permits totaling 111 wells, according to O’Dorisio. Extraction Oil and Gas, Inc. submitted an application for 22 wells that was approved just before the public hearing.

Senator Stephen Fenberg (D-18th), sponsor of SB19-181 said the moratorium was unnecessary because he is confident the measure will pass the General Assembly and be signed by Democratic Governor Jared Polis, according to CPR.