Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Aurora forgoes fracking moratorium but begins looking at local regulations

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

AURORA | It’s illegal for the city of Aurora to outright ban hydraulic fracturing but the city could enact an ordinance that regulates drilling-related land uses, city attorneys told Aurora City Council members at a public meeting on Feb. 25.

Council members at the meeting informally approved a draft ordinance regulating oil and gas development amidst growing tensions from the community about the environmental impacts of fracking.

City staff members in the coming weeks are slated to meet with major oil and gas developers to discuss the proposed draft, and council members will have to formally vote on the draft at a later date.

The draft ordinance puts stricter regulations on oil and gas developers than the city’s current ordinance, but concerned residents still say council should have done more.
City council members at the meeting rejected the idea of a moratorium to study the environmental impacts of oil and gas drilling, although Councilwoman Renie Peterson tried to push that proposal at the meeting.

Bob Rogers, deputy city attorney, said the moratorium would be pointless.

“We don’t need that breather,” he said. “Staff is on the way to change the ordinance and we think it’s better to get public hearings and to force negotiations on the (drilling) operators instead of waiting 30 or 60 days for nothing because we’re not going to be doing a fracking study.”

That was disappointing to Sonia Skakich-Scrima, a member of What The Frack? Arapahoe, a grassroots group that has spent the past several months trying to convince council members of the need for a moratorium.

“I would have liked to see a six-month moratorium to allow staff to better inform themselves,” she said.

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