Pipeline code changes pass first reading

Published on January 05, 2022

A pipe running in the ground

More than a year’s worth of work between the Weld County Oil and Gas Energy Department (OGED) and the oil and gas industry to strengthen and bring further clarity to Weld County pipeline permitting requirements resulted in the Weld County Board of Commissioners approving the first reading of code changes concerning the county’s Location Assessment for Pipelines (LAP) process.

The first major change in the proposed code changes is to shift the authority to approve a LAP permit from the Department of Planning Services director to the OGED director. Therefore, the LAP code is moving from Chapter 23 to Chapter 21. Other changes center on implementing and improving best management practices to ensure pipelines continue to respect landowner rights as well as the environment.

“There’s a possibility that the pipelines we deal with are regulated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission or the Colorado Public Utilities Commission, but there is also the possibility that they are not, in which case we would be the only jurisdiction issuing a permit,” explained OGED Director Jason Maxey. “We want to allow those companies regulated by other agencies to submit the same information to us, as well as provide clear steps to those with pipelines not regulated by other agencies on how they can meet safety standards to obtain a permit with Weld County.”

While the OGED has been ensuring pipeline permits its granted since 2019 have met both safety and environmentally friendly standards, Maxey said meeting with oil and gas representatives over the past year has allowed the OGED to look at the LAP process and eliminate redundancies while adding or reemphasizing standards to strengthen the permitting process. There are no changes affecting width requirements or mapping requirements, but some of the changes include:

  • Submitting copies of pre-commissioning tests to the OGED. For pipelines not regulated federally or by the state, the applicant must submit annual patrol reports.
  • A greater emphasis on best management practices for pipeline installation and assurance that during the installation process, plans will be implemented to minimize adverse impacts to the surrounding environment.

“Our LAP process is an important piece of protecting health, safety and welfare of the public and environment,” Weld County Commissioner Steve Moreno said. “It’s also important to be sure it’s a process that can be met without undo burden on those seeking permits. One way to do that is to get feedback from the energy industry, which we’ve done and will continue to do throughout this process.”

Before changes are final, they must pass second and third reading on January 10, 2022, and third reading on January 31, 2022.

To learn more about the OGED, visit www.weldgov.com, look under “departments” and click “oil and gas energy.”

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