The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission has preliminarily approved comprehensive new rules to limit the impact of drilling near residences and other occupied buildings. In a release, the commision states that the set of rules are more rigorous than any in the country.
These new rules combine stringent mitigation measures, expanded notice and outreach to local communities and heightened distances (called "setbacks") between drilling and dwellings.
Colorado's new rules for setbacks and associated measures exceed those in neighboring states of Kansas, Wyoming, Utah, New Mexico, Nebraska, Arizona and Texas. Earlier this week the commission also approved rules that are among the strongest in the country for monitoring and protection of groundwater. Only two other states have mandatory groundwater programs in place and no other state requires operators to take post-drilling water samples.
"These are tough and far-reaching new rules that significantly reduce the effects of drilling for those living or working nearby while at the same time protecting the rights of mineral owners," said Matt Lepore, Director of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. "We believe these collectively amount to the strongest criteria for setbacks in the country, will hold industry to a new standard and represent a national model."
The new rules include a suite of important new provisions. They include:
• Operators 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. Those measures include closed-loop drilling that eliminate pits, liner standards to protect against spills, capture of gases to reduce odors and emissions, as well as strict controls on the nuisance impacts of noise, dust and lighting.
• Existing setback standards of 150 feet in rural areas and 350 feet in urban areas are extended to a uniform 500 feet statewide.
• Operators cannot operate within 1,000 feet of buildings housing larger numbers of people, such as schools, nursing homes and hospitals, without a hearing before the commission.
• Operators must engage in expanded notice and outreach efforts with nearby residents and conduct additional engagement with local governments about proposed operations. As part of this, operators proposing drilling within 1,000 feet must meet with anyone within that area who asks.blog comments powered by Disqus