October 13, 2015
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The Governor Needs to Hear Our Voices; Participate in the COGCC Stakeholder Meetings This Week
State is Allowing Neighborhood Drilling

The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) is the state agency that regulates oil and gas development in Colorado. The COGCC has proposed new regulations to supposedly address the problem of drilling and fracking wells near residential areas. Shockingly, the proposed regulations actually ALLOW an unlimited number of wells and oil tanks in the middle of neighborhoods. The COGCC has proposed regulations that will allow local governments to comment on the proposed facility but does not allow them to say no. By making the neighborhood drilling process so easy, the state is actually encouraging the drilling of new wells in neighborhoods!!

The COGCC is having two open public meetings to discuss its proposal:

What: COGCC Stakeholder Meeting
When: Tomorrow and Thursday (Oct. 14 and 15), 9:00a.m.- noon.
Where: The public is encouraged to attend the stakeholder meeting at the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, 1120 Lincoln Street, 8 th floor, Denver CO 80203 or listen via conference, call 877.820.7832 and enter meeting code 326793#.

We hope you can come both tomorrow and Thursday, but if you can only come one day we encourage you to make it on Thursday.  If you need a ride, email us and we may be able to put you in touch with a neighbor that has room in their vehicle.
Comments you may want to make on the COGCC Proposed rules....
Defining "Large Oil and Gas Facilities"  are defined as an oil and gas location in an Urban Mitigation Area (UMA) that includes 90,000 feet of combined  borehole length (8 one-mile horizontal wells or 12 directional wells) or 4,000 barrels of onsite  storage capacity. A facility that qualifies as a Large UMA Facility is subject to more regulations than other facilities.
  • Given that this definition will only be used for facilities proposed within neighborhoods, the effective number of wells needed to qualify as "large" should be reduced by half.
  • There is also no upper limit on the number of wells that can be placed in an urban mitigation area. Well pads of 30 wells and 50 tanks in the middle of a neighborhood could be approved under the new rules.
Proximity to Homes  - the draft allows oil and gas drilling in neighborhoods.
  • The state should require large oil and gas facilities to be at least a 1,500 feet from property lines. (Dallas, Texas has a minimum 1,500-foot setback from homes)
  • The state should require setbacks from schools to be measured at the school yard grounds (including playgrounds) rather than the school building.
  • The state should enforce the current requirement that large scale facilities be placed "as far as possible from homes," and the industry should prepare an "alternative location analysis" anytime a large facility is proposed within 1,500 feet of a home.
  • Class II waste water injection wells (like the Greeley site that was hit by lightning this summer and exploded) should be banned within neighborhoods.
  • The setback "exceptions" have to be repealed for all large scale facilities. Current regulations allow oil and gas operators to be granted an "exception" to the meager 500-foot setback regulations in a number of cases. Oil and gas operators can place facilities closer than 500 feet from homes if they: 1) had a surface use agreement in place prior to 2013, 2) were expanding an existing location, or 3) were in a rural area.
Public Process in the Decision -  The draft gives impacted neighbors no way to affect the COGCC's decision.
  • The COGCC has refused to change current rules that require the operator to notify only those neighbors within 1,000 feet of a proposed well-site. Impacted neighbors only have 20 days to comment to the COGCC on their website and these comments will not be answered.
  • Your neighborhood can be changed into a de facto industrial area without giving you due process of a meaningful way to comment and a fair hearing.
  • The COGCC should increase the public notice to 2,000 feet and allow impacted landowners within that area to require a public hearing on the proposal before the COGCC.

In early 2015, the Governor-convened Oil and Gas Task Force made final recommendations to address widespread concern over oil and gas facilities being placed near homes and neighborhoods. Recommendation 17 proposed new rules that would 1) create a process for local governments to have early consultation on large scale oil and gas facilities within Urban Mitigation Areas, 2) define "large scale oil and gas facilities", and 3) grant the COGCC Director additional powers and siting tools to relocate large scale oil and gas facilities away from residential areas and when that is not feasible, to require mitigation measures to limit impacts on neighboring communities.

Unfortunately, the draft rules ignore the mandate to move oil and gas facilities away from homes. The rules will allow large scale oil and gas development within neighborhoods, without giving impacted landowners a hearing or the ability to meaningfully comment.

These regulations do nothing to prevent oil and gas facilities from being placed in neighborhoods. After these regulations are passed, there will likely be more oil and gas drilling in neighborhoods, not less. 

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