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Colorado Approves Stricter Rules For Oil & Gas Drilling

The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) approved this week stricter rules for oil and gas drilling, extending the setbacks for oil wells from homes and schools to 2,000 feet, four times the current buffer, and banning routine flaring as of January 15, 2021. 

The COGCC had been considering for months changes to the state regulations about oil and gas drilling in Colorado after the state passed in 2019 Senate Bill 181, which says that public health and welfare should be prioritized in the regulation of oil and gas drilling.   

In the 2018 midterm elections, voters in Colorado were asked to vote on a ballot proposition to increase the setback distance for drilling oil and gas wells by five times to 2,500 feet, which would have put a lot of land off-limits for new developments. Back then, Proposition 112 requiring much greater setback distance failed with 56.75 percent of votes against, which was then a relief for Colorado drillers such as Anadarko, Noble Energy, and Devon Energy, who had sponsored the ‘no’ camp in the campaign.

But with the 2019 bill, state regulators have to change some regulations to comply with that Senate Bill.

COGCC’s chairman Jeff Robbins told The Colorado Sun in September that support for the extended setbacks for oil and gas wells from homes and schools is “a paradigm shift” which sends a signal to operators who “ought to check in with the commission and local governments early on” if their drilling plan would be doable.

In response to the new regulations, Lynn Granger, Executive Director at the Colorado chapter of the American Petroleum Institute (API), said in a statement on Monday: 

“While Colorado’s natural gas and oil industry is nothing if not resilient, it is critical that we have a seat at the table as guidance is developed and the rules are put into practice.”  

By Michael Kern for Oilprice.com 

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