Industry proposal would close compressor regulations gap |

Industry proposal would close compressor regulations gap

Dennis WebbGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

A loophole in Garfield County regulation of compressor stations used by the oil and gas industry may be closed as a result of a proposal by that industry.The proposal would result in all compressor stations undergoing county review, whereas some escape such review now, said county attorney Don Deford.It was one of several proposals suggested by the industry last week and accepted by the county Planning and Zoning Commission as it completes work on its new land use code.Deford said the existing loophole has concerned county Commissioner Trési Houpt. She could not be reached for comment Monday.Compressor stations sometimes cause concerns for rural residents because of noise and impacts on air quality.Deford said the compressors all used to be required to have special use permits from the county under its materials handling regulations. That changed after the county adopted new regulations applying to oil and gas pipelines.Those rules included compressor stations as accessory uses to pipelines, excluding them from the need for a separate permit. But the rules also exempted small pipelines from county review, which meant their compressor stations also didn’t need permits.Meanwhile, the industry this summer proposed wide-ranging new county regulations that would apply to energy development and be incorporated in the new land use code proposal.Last week, energy companies backed off their request that the planning commission adopt the industry’s proposal this late into the commission’s work on rewriting the code. The Grand Valley Citizens Alliance had objected to the industry proposal, saying it also wanted the opportunity to provide input into any new oil and gas regulations.The county may consider comprehensive new industry rules later. For the short term, however, the industry persuaded the planning commission to adjust certain aspects of the proposed new code to more clearly define land uses related to energy production, and what level of county review proposals for such uses would receive. One of the industry’s recommendations was that compressor stations be subject to review.Deford said the planning commission agreed that the county should require permits for compressors not already subject to regulation under the pipeline rules.Doug Dennison, an associate geologist for Cordilleran Compliance, an energy industry contractor, was instrumental in pursuing the changes sought by the industry. He said the industry’s goal when it comes to compressor stations and other aspects of oil and gas development is to gain more clarity on how county regulations may apply.He noted that the new land use regulations, including those applying to the oil and gas industry, are subject to consideration by county commissioners.”Part of me feels like we’re still kind of early in this process,” he said.Contact Dennis Webb: 384-9119dwebb@postindependent.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO

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