Grand County commissioners defend local control in oil and gas |

Grand County commissioners defend local control in oil and gas

Leia Larsen

HOT SULPHUR SPRINGS — Grand County’s commissioners haven taken issue with Gov. Hickenlooper’s approach to local control of oil and gas development.

In a letter issued on May 21, Commissioners James Newberry, Merrit Linke and Gary Burgarner asked the governor to develop future energy policy that recognizes the authority of local communities. Specifically, the letter called for stronger state health regulations, including measures to reduce methane emissions and smog; recognition of local governments’ duty to protect citizens; and better research on the impacts of fracking and other oil and gas exploration activities.

“As the most impacted county in Colorado for trans-basin diversions, we know all too well what consequences can occur without local control and local regulations,” commissioners said in the letter.

Projects with statewide interests and local impacts are regulated by local governments with state oversight. The process establishes “1041 powers,” named for state legislation passed in 1974, granting local government control over project development. It also allows local authorities to ensure projects meet the environmental and planning standards outlined by their communities. Commissioners want similar powers extended to oil and gas development.

According to the commissioners’ office, the letter was sent in conjunction with the opinion of the Northwest Colorado Council of Government.

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