Oil and gas fracking guidelines approved by Boulder County commissioners

BOULDER, Colo. - Saying they don't have the power to ban fracking altogether, the Boulder County Commissioners tightened the two decades old regulations on oil and gas drilling

All three commissioners said they agree fracking should be banned, but said that power rests with the state legislature and the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission

Protestors were not able to speak at this meeting, as it was strictly for a vote. The final public comment took place last week.

About a dozen Boulder County Sheriff's deputies were inside the Boulder County Courthouse as added security for the vote. Many protestors had to watch from the hallway once the commissioners' room met capacity. Most put tape over their mouths, and some wore signs with the sayings, "No Friggin' Frackin'," "Toxic Air," and "Regulating Fracking Is Like Bombing For Peace."

"The folks have taped their mouths as you saw today, saying, 'Hey, hey, we are begging you come on, spearhead a major movement here," said protestor Steele Ely. "We were asking our commissioners to break some of the rules."

"We don't have the power to ban fracking," said Boulder County Commissioner chairwoman Cindy Domenico. "(The state has) the authority to address the technical below ground issues, like Fracking. We don't have that authority."

The county commissioners voted in stricter air and water quality regulations for Fracking sites. They also extended the distance fracking would be allowed near homes and water sources.

A moratorium banning new fracking permits in Boulder County is set to expire on February 4. 7NEWS asked if the commissioners plan on extending the temporary ban.

"Having looked at what it's going to take to actually put these new rules and regulations in place, I believe we will need to extend," said Domenico.

Commissioner Will Toor, who is term-limited next month, said he would support a ban on fracking, but said it would be up to a voter initiative. He feared a lawsuit if the commissioners considered an all-out ban.

"An oil and gas operator would come in and would sue. I believe that they would win in court," said Toor.

He said if the county tried to ban fracking and not revise the county regulations, the county would likely lose in court and he said the oil and gas operators would be able to continue  fracking under the decades old regulations.

Each commissioner suggested that the only way to ban fracking locally would be a statewide voter-approved initiative on the ballot.