COGCC Press Release re Groundwater Protection Proposals

January 1, 2013

 On December 31, 2012, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission issued the press release below:



John W. Hickenlooper, Governor 

1120 Lincoln St. Suite 801 

Denver, CO 80203 

Phone: (303) 894-2100 

FAX: (303) 894-2109 



December 31, 2012 



Todd Hartman, Colorado Department of Natural Resources, 303-866-3311 x-8665 


                              COGCC TO CONSIDER GROUNDBREAKING 

                                         NEW OIL AND GAS RULES 


State oil and gas regulators today completed groundbreaking proposals for groundwater protection and the reduction of drilling impacts near homes for consideration next week before the nine-member Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.   


The draft rules follow months of stakeholder meetings and public participation, including nearly a year of presentations and comment on the issue of how best to balance energy production with the need to minimize impacts on residences from nearby oil and gas development. 


The two sets of rules were developed with extensive input from local governments, farmers and ranchers, the environmental community, homeowners, the energy industry, homebuilders, mineral owners, environmental health specialists and business leaders. COGCC staff has spent much of 2012 engaging these stakeholders in order to develop rules that protect the public health and environment while providing the flexibility needed to allow for production of energy that all Coloradans depend upon in everyday life, creates and sustains thousands of jobs and is critical to the state’s economy. 

“These proposed rules reinforce Colorado’s role as a national pacesetter in the comprehensive and progressive regulation of oil and gas exploration and production,” said Matt Lepore, director of the COGCC, the state’s regulatory agency that staffs the Governor-appointed Commission. “These proposals contain mitigation standards unprecedented nationally and mark yet another step forward in fashioning a model regulatory framework that strikes a balance that’s right for Colorado.” 

“At the same time, we understand that our draft rules will leave no one set of interests completely satisfied, and provide various targets for those who want to see it done differently,” Lepore said. “And yet, we expect most everyone who participated will see elements and concepts in these proposals that they helped initiate and push forward.” 


Components of the proposals include: 


 . The new rules will require operators to meet enhanced mitigation, notice and outreach requirements when drilling near residences beginning at 1,000 feet. Setbacks in previous rules of 350 feet (urban) and 150 feet (rural) will now be 500 feet statewide. 


.  New measures to limit impacts may include pit-less drilling, steel berms and underground liners, strict dust and lighting controls and capture of gasses to reduce odors and emissions. 

. Operators must engage in expanded notice and outreach efforts with nearby residents and conduct additional engagement with local governments about proposed operations. 

. Operators must conduct sampling of water wells near drilling sites both before and after drilling activities to ensure drinking water aquifers are protected. This would make Colorado the only state to require sampling both pre- and post-drilling. 

. 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. 


These proposals will be considered during public hearings scheduled for January 7, 8 and 9 before the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. The Commission can modify the proposal, or pursue other options, based on testimony during this hearing, and in previous hearings that have taken place on these matters in recent weeks. 


The upcoming hearings will take place at the Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel, 1550 Court Place, beginning at 9 a.m. each day. The Commission includes representatives from across Colorado. Seats are filled by members with expertise in environmental and wildlife protection, agriculture, soil conservation, oil and gas production and regulatory oversight. 


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