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Attorney General Cynthia H. Coffman Files Suit Against Boulder County for Illegal Moratorium

Five years ago, in February of 2012, the Boulder County Board of County Commissioners imposed a moratorium on all new applications for oil or gas development in Boulder County.  The Boulder Commissioners since have re-imposed or extended the moratorium eight separate times. Two of those extensions were passed after the Colorado Supreme Court ruled in May 2016 that local bans on oil or gas development are preempted if they conflict with the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Act, which regulates all aspects of oil and gas development and operations within the State.  After the Supreme Court’s ruling in the City of Longmont and City of Fort Collins cases, other local governments acted to lift similar bans – except for Boulder County.  On January 27, 2016, the Attorney General’s Office put Boulder County on notice that if it did not come into compliance with the law by February 10th, the State would take legal action against the County. 

The Boulder County Commissioners responded that they needed yet more time to draft regulations and prepare to accept new applications for oil or gas development.  Because five years is more than reasonable time to complete such a project, and because Boulder County continues to operate in clear violation of Colorado law, the Attorney General today is filing suit in Boulder County District Court to compel compliance.  It is not the job of industry to enforce Colorado law; that is the role of the Attorney General on behalf of the People of Colorado.  Regrettably, Boulder County’s open defiance of State law has made legal action the final recourse available to the State.  

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Annie Skinner
Colorado Attorney General’s Office