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Colorado Regulators Increase Oil And Gas Drilling Setbacks

Photo by Kirk Siegler

State officials have given initial approval to new setback rules requiring that oil and gas wells must be a minimum of 500 feet away from any buildings in Colorado.

Previous regulations only required 150 feet in rural areas and 350 feet in cities and town. The rules were passed during a hearing of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission in Denver.

“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.

The Commission will also require that operators be willing to meet with anyone who lives with 1,000 feet of the well site. 

The setback requirement for operators wanting to drill near buildings housing larger numbers of people, such as schools, nursing homes and hospitals will be 1,000 feet unless there is a hearing before the Commission.

Earlier this week the Commission approved rules requiring energy companies to do groundwater sampling both before and after drilling. Only two other states have mandatory groundwater programs in place and no other state in the country requires operators to take post-drilling water samples.

My journalism career started in college when I worked as a reporter and Weekend Edition host for WEKU-FM, an NPR member station in Richmond, KY. I graduated from Eastern Kentucky University with a B.A. in broadcast journalism.
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