Adams County halts drilling permits due to ballot measure

The Adams County Commission voted unanimously Wednesday to put a six-month moratorium on energy development.

Commissioners want to wait on the state Legislature to consider a bill that would give local governments more authority to regulate oil and gas operations.

Members of the commission said they hoped to head off a rush of applications that would have to be grandfathered in after new rules take effect.

RELATED: Adams County commissioners unanimously approve temporary ban on oil and gas development

Senate Bill 181 has the backing of Democrats, who have a majority in the state House and Senate, as well as Democratic Gov. Jared Polis.

“Adams County did the right thing today by stopping all new fracking permits,” Aurora resident Jason Harrison, an organizer for Food and Water Watch Colorado, which has battled the energy industry, said in a statement.

“This measure will give the county government time to evaluate the new law, should SB 181 pass, and give the community a chance to weigh in on the issue. The people most directly affected by the dangers of oil and gas drilling should have the right to decide what happens in their communities.”

The Colorado Petroleum Council said the move by Adams County is a glimpse of the local bans that are in store for the industry, if Senate Bill 181 becomes law.

“Again and again, proponents of this bill have explicitly denied any suggestions that the measure would permit municipalities and counties to do exactly what has happened in Adams County today," said Ben Marter, a spokesman for the Colorado Petroleum Council.

“Either Senate Bill 181 allows local governments to ban energy development, or it doesn’t. We request that the authors of Senate Bill 181 immediately clarify this apparent discrepancy relative to their prior assertions.”

The Colorado Petroleum Council is a division of API, which represents all segments of America’s oil and natural gas industry. Its more than 600 members produce, process and distribute most of the nation’s energy.

The industry supports 10.3 million U.S. jobs and is backed by a growing grassroots movement of more than 47 million Americans. API was formed in 1919 as a standards-setting organization. In its first 100 years, API has developed more than 700 standards to enhance operational and environmental safety, efficiency and sustainability.

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