COGCC adopts new drilling setback rules

The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission this morning signed off on sweeping new rules governing minimum setbacks between oil and gas drilling and homes and other buildings.

The commission voted 8-1 to establish 500-foot minimum setbacks that can be waived under certain circumstances.

Companies would have to mitigate traffic, noise, fume and other impacts for drilling within 1,000 feet of buildings. A commission hearing would be required of anyone seeking to drill fewer than 1,000 feet from schools, hospitals, nursing homes and other public buildings.

Companies now can drill as close as 150 feet from homes in rural areas and 350 feet from high-density neighborhoods.

The commission passed the measure amid increasing public concern as drilling nears more urbanized Front Range communities.

“Although not perfect, it does improve the likelihood that the public is going to be safer than before,” said Commissioner Chris Urbina, also executive director of the state Department of Public Health and Environment.

Commissioner Tommy Holton, also mayor of Fort Lupton, cast the sole vote against the measure, citing the lack of scientific data over possible health impacts from nearby drilling.

“We need to base this on fact and not change the rules just because we can,” he said.



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