Colorado regulators eye new fracking rules

Oil and gas drilling near schools and homes in Firestone, Colorado. Photo courtesy Shane Davis, Sierra Club, Rocky Mountain Chapter.
Oil and gas drilling near schools and homes in Firestone, Colorado. Photo courtesy Shane Davis, Sierra Club, Rocky Mountain Chapter.

State commission will meet Jan. 25 to take action on proposed regulations

Staff Report

The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission is set to take some modest steps to strengthen its oversight of oil and gas development in Colorado by considering new rules that would require more cooperation between fracking operators and local communities.

The commission will meet Jan. 25 to consider rules that would ensure that fossil fuel companies provide earlier notice to local governments, as well as an opportunity for local officials to work with operators on the location of large oil and gas facilities adjacent to communities.

New rules could also require additional mitigation measures and best management practices to address the potential impacts of oil and gas development activities. The commission also wants operators to share information with municipalities about future oil and gas development plans to encourage discussion and improve planning for both parties.

The meeting starts 9 a.m. at the University of Colorado-Denver School of Public Affairs, in the Terrace Room on the second floor at 1380 Lawrence Street in Denver. The meeting will also be audio streamed on the COGCC website.

Next week’s hearing caps about six months of public process, including 11 statewide outreach meetings last summer that included 39 local governments as well as several citizen and industry groups, followed by stakeholder meetings in October and three days of formal testimony in November and December.

According to the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, the proposed rules stem from February 2014 recommendations made by the Governor’s Oil and Task Force

All documents , party statements, meeting audio and many other materials related to this rulemaking are housed on the COGCC website here: http://cogcc.state.co.us/reg.html#/rules/gtfrulemaking.

In recent years, the COGCC under the administration of Governor John Hickenlooper has also upped fines for violators, toughened rules for operations in floodplains and moved to increase distances between drilling and neighborhoods.

The discussions will take place against a backdrop of falling fossil fuel prices and growing controversy over fracking worldwide, as emerging studies begin to show the true health and environmental costs of the practice, like the incredible methane leak in Aliso Canyon. One recent research project showed a link between exposure to fracking chemicals and infertility. Other studies on emissions suggest methane leaks from natural gas production all but nullify the relative environmental benefits of natural gas.

In Colorado, citizen advocacy groups are proposing a slew of constitutional amendments that would be much — including an outright statewide ban.

 

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