New rules for oil & gas exploration in Colorado
The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission has finalized new rules covering how oil and gas companies may drill. It increases the amount of distance is required between drills and neighborhoods, schools, and other populated areas.
The rules are simultaneously being touted as strong by politicians and weak by environmentalists. This fact exposes the complex nature of each rule, and the myriad ways they can be circumvented.
The new rules make numerous changes to procedure, including:
- Drill operators that are proposing to drill within 1,000 feet of an occupied structure would be required to meet new and enhanced measures to limit the disruptions a nearby drill site can create.
- The existing setback standards of 150 feet in rural areas and 350 feet in urban areas are extended to a uniform 500 feet statewide.
- Drill operators cannot drill within 1,000 feet of buildings housing larger numbers of people, such as schools, nursing homes and hospitals, without a hearing before the Commission.
- Drill operators must engage in expanded notice and outreach efforts with nearby residents and conduct additional engagement with local governments about proposed operations. Drill operators proposing to drill within 1,000 feet must meet with anyone within that area who asks.
Critics are pointing to exemptions in the rules as glaring holes that can be exploited easily by drill operators. Some also point out the rights of landowners looking to confront unwanted developments, saying the rules limit options in those situations.
The new rules take effect August 1st.