Colorado adopts 500-ft setback for new oil and gas wells

[Editor's Note: Story was updated Feb. 12 with COGCC comment]

Colorado’s Oil and Gas Conservation Commission voted 8-1 to require new oil and gas wells to be at least 500 ft from homes and buildings, effective Aug. 1.

The new regulation, which replaces a 350-ft setback requirement, and associated measures will strengthen protections for public health, safety, welfare, and the environment, according to officials.

COGCC Director Matt LePore said the issue was highly charged and complicated, making it one of the most difficult the commission has addressed.

“We have fulfilled our obligation to address the toughest matters and work toward the best interests of the citizens,” he said. “This Commission has shepherded through a rule that once again makes Colorado an example for other states to follow.”

The Colorado Oil & Gas Association was critical. “We do not believe this new rule properly acknowledges either the complexities or the impacts to a diverse array of citizen stakeholders,” COGA Pres. Tisha Schuller said.

COGCC held hearings and stakeholder meetings over many months before making its final decision, she conceded. “Nevertheless this rule goes too far by ultimately impacting the farmer, the rancher, mineral rights owner, business owner, and home developers,” Schuller said.

“Setbacks are much more than just a simple measurement of distance, but encompass the notice, engagement, agreements, and mitigation measures involved in responsible oil and gas development,” she added.

COGA supported an alternative plan, which would have provided flexibility for efficient use of land and drilling resources when there are multiple interests involved with the siting of an oil and gas well, according to Schuller.

“Unfortunately, the new setback will instead result in more interference with surface use and development,” she warned.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com

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