Panel tentatively approves new drilling setback rules

Colorado oil and gas regulators today provisionally approved new, stricter rules governing setbacks between drilling and homes and other structures.

The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission’s action is intended to address some of the contentious concerns over issues such as fumes, noise, traffic and possible health impacts from operations near where people live.

Currently, companies can drill within 150 feet of homes in rural areas and 350 feet in urban areas. Under the commission’s new rules, which it expects to take final action on within a few weeks, companies seeking to drill closer than 500 feet from homes and other buildings would have to meet requirements for meeting with affected building owners and mitigating impacts. Also, a local government’s designee could require that permission be obtained from building owners within 500 feet, unless a company receives a variance.

The meeting and impact mitigation requirements also would apply for other drilling within 1,000 feet of buildings, and a commission hearing would be required to drill closer than 1,000 feet from schools, hospitals, nursing homes and other public buildings.

The commission’s provisional vote was 7-2, with commissioners John Benton, an oil and gas executive, and Tommy Holton, mayor of Fort Lupton, voting no. It delayed final action so commission staff could bring back a revised document for it to consider based on its discussion today.


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