As the state reviews new oil and gas regulations, Pitkin County commissioners and staff argue that the proposed policies are not comprehensive and do not give the local government enough power in restricting development.
The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC), which oversees drilling in the state, is currently considering new regulations governing gas drilling setbacks from homes and groundwater monitoring near gas wells.
Under the most recent draft, which was released on New Year’s Eve, oil and gas wells would be required to be setback 500 feet from buildings, including residential, commercial and public structures. Also, oil and gas operators would be required to take samples from two groundwater sources near drilling sites to be tested for contamination.
Those regulations don’t give enough discretion to the local government, wrote county commissioners in a November letter to the COGCC. Instituting a statewide standard isn’t the best way to regulate development, because it doesn’t give the local government, which has a better understanding of the area, the authority to institute a higher setback in case local conditions demand it, commissioners wrote. If a setback is instituted it should be 1,000 feet or more and that distance could be reduced at the discretion of the local government, according to commissioners.
The county hasn’t received a response to the letter since it was sent, according to Jon Peacock, county manager, and the most recent New Year’s Eve draft of the proposed regulation did not address the commissioners’ critiques.