Nov 19, 2012 8:41 PM by Matt Stafford

Oil industry moving forward in El Paso County

A second company has approval to begin drilling for oil in eastern El Paso County.

"We have been trying to get a little bit of information from the operators to see if they've found anything, and they're very, very silent right now," says County Commission Chairwoman Amy Lathen, but she's optimistic.

"With another company coming in, and drilling another well, maybe that's a good sign," says Commissioner Lathen.

Things are moving now, but let's go back; In February El Paso County's moratorium on the industry was expiring. County Commissioners were trying to put standards in place for companies hoping to drill, but the state said those rules came from them; if El Paso County wanted changes, they needed to go through the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.

So that's what El Paso County has done, and they're starting to see some results. The local representative to the council argued for and won stricter ground water testing; it was approved last week.

"I think that we've just taken a very, very conservative approach to the way we're handling this in El Paso County," explains Commissioner Lathen.

Others wish the process moved a little faster.

"I have a good friend that's drilling right now in North Dakota," says Scott Hill, an El Paso County resident. "(He) seems to be doing really well out there."

For 2012 North Dakota is on pace to pump more than 200 million barrels of oil out of the ground, they also have an unemployment rate of 3 percent. Hill says we could use some of that here.

"We need the jobs, we need our economy to be robust," says Hill.

For others conservation and pollution are a big concern, and water tops the list.

"That's the number one issue as it relates to oil and gas; it's the groundwater, both the quality and the quantity," says Commissioner Lathen.

Now County Commissioners have a tool to hold water standards in place.

The next step is waiting to see what producers can find.



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