Council OK's First Reading of Oil/Gas Drilling Rules

The city council not only took on the issue of panhandling at Tuesday’s meeting, but also tackled the controversial issue of fracking.

Dozens spoke out at the Springs City Council meeting asking to not approve an ordinance that could open the door to future fracking in the city. That’s where water, sand, or chemicals are blasted underground to free oil and natural gas.

With a 6-3 vote the council approved the first reading on a set of rules that oil and gas companies would have to follow if they ever want to drill in the city of Colorado Springs.

They still have to vote another time before the oil and gas drilling regulations become law. If approved by January, the new rules could be implemented by March.

Around 30 people spoke out both for and against the issue before the council voted. Most were against the ordinance that opens the doors for energy companies to drill exploratory and other wells within city limits.

Protesters rallied outside city hall asking to ban hydraulic fracturing or fracking all together.

Critics say the regulations are not strict enough and needed more environmental safeguards. They brought up concerns about the health dangers of drilling and fracking, worried about air and water quality.

Supporters say future drilling and fracking is a huge opportunity to bring new jobs and tax revenue to the city.

It was prohibited to drill within the city before, but this new ordinance opens the door up for the possibility. The Springs faced being sued by the state if they didn’t approve the ordinance, like what happened in Longmont, according to speakers at the meeting Tuesday.

The vote comes three weeks after citizens in Longmont banned hydraulic fracturing. According to the Associate Press, state officials and the oil and gas industry say local governments can’t set their own drilling rules.

Back in March, Governor Hickenlooper says he prefers state regulation of oil and gas drilling to federal regulation. In response to the tension over how much local communities can regulate drilling within their borders, on top of statewide regulations, he said it would be “very tough” on industry if each county had a different set of regulations.