Douglas County Commissioner Jack Hilbert had a long learning curve on Gov. John Hickenlooper’s oil and gas task force and he hopes to bring that lesson to the table for county residents.
Hilbert spent eight weeks on the governor’s task force, which aimed to create a better line of communication between government entities and the oil industry. Hilbert learned the industry, through the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, provides detailed drilling information on its website.
It’s just a matter of learning how to navigate your way around it, Hilbert said. Navigation is the key for government entities such as Douglas County, which face the possibility of drilling operations as oil companies file drilling unit applications, the first step after an operator has secured access to mineral rights.
As municipalities brace for the possibility of drilling operations in different parts of the county, Hilbert, through the Douglas County Partnership of Governments, launched plans to adopt a memorandum of understanding between Douglas County and its municipalities for uniform oil and gas regulations.
“It just makes sense for the sake of our residents to have the same regulations across the board,” Hilbert said. “That way no matter where you live in the county we don’t have this confusion at the edge of every town confusing the citizens who live in that area.”
Hilbert enlisted the help of the partnership, which has representatives from each of the county’s municipalities. While Parker adopted oil and gas regulations in 2011, Castle Rock’s development services department is awaiting the outcome of the MOU process to move forward with its regulations to ensure uniform representation.
“The elements we’ll be looking at are groundwater protection, surface water protection, inspections and setbacks,” said Heather Vidlock, assistant director of development services for Castle Rock. “Basically the locals are asking the state to raise the level of protection. That’s what’s accomplished with the MOU.”
Among the procedures in the MOU is the intent to appoint a local government designee as an oil and gas industry representative for industry reports from the COGCC, Hilbert said. The designee acts as a point person for notification when an oil company has filed its intent with the commission for drilling operations.
“Entities that don’t have a local government designee aren’t doing their job,” Hilbert said. “It ensures that anything going on in your jurisdiction, you will receive notification in ample time.”