New oil and gas rules regarding how close the energy industry can drill near homes and businesses have been proposed by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC). The commission said the rules requiring a 500-foot buffer zone, or setback, between an occupied building and an oil and gas well are the most rigorous in the country.
Currently, a 150-foot setback is in place in rural areas and 350 feet in cities, the Coloradoan reported. Under the proposed rules, any energy company that wishes to drill within 1,000 feet of an occupied building would have to use a closed-loop drilling system that eliminates pits, meets state liner standards to protect against spills on site and captures gases to reduce emissions. The company would also have to meet controls on noise, dust and lighting nuisances.
Also, if an energy company wishes to drill within 1,000 feet of a school, nursing home or hospital, a public hearing before the COGCC would have to take place, according to the proposed rules.
"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 COGCC.
The COGCC is expected to hold a final vote on the rules by the end of January, the Denver Business Journal reported.