All’s quiet on the oil and gas noise rule front |

All’s quiet on the oil and gas noise rule front

Citing concern from not just residents but the oil and gas industry, state regulators are dropping a proposal to revise noise regulations associated with gas drilling.

Brian Macke, deputy director of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, said COGCC staff pulled the proposal from the agenda of a rulemaking hearing the commission will be holding in Denver Monday.

“We were just seeing that we were having a very difficult time working up a draft that was very understandable to the different, diverse parties that were looking at this,” he said.

“It appeared we weren’t able to achieve what we were trying to achieve.”

The goal had been simply to clarify the current noise limits, said Macke. But members of the Grand Valley Citizens Alliance and Garfield County Commissioners objected. They said the change would force residents in agricultural areas to live with the higher noise levels permitted in light industrial areas.

The COGCC limits daytime noise related to oil and gas development to 55 decibels in residential areas, which is comparable to what’s heard in a normal office environment. Critics of the rule change said it would have subjected rural residents to noise up to 70 decibels, or about that produced by freeway traffic.

With the withdrawal of the proposed change, the 55-decibel limit will remain in place.

But Macke insists that it wouldn’t have changed under the revision. No matter how surrounding property is classified, the 55-decibel residential noise standard would be enforced at a residence, he said.

Macke said that very fact concerned the industry because the residential standard would have been applied retroactively to homes built after gas operations had begun.

County Commissioner Tresi Houpt said she had mixed feelings over the news that the proposed noise rule revisions had been dropped.

“I don’t think it addresses the issue of residential versus light industrial,” she said.

If it’s true, as Macke says, that the noise revisions only would have clarified the current rules, then those rules already treat rural residential lands as light industrial ones, Houpt believes.

However, she is glad to hear that if the noise rules are brought up again, Macke plans to consult a stakeholders group of interested parties, including residents, local governments and the industry.

He said if the noise rules are reconsidered, it wouldn’t occur for several months at the earliest.

Contact Dennis Webb: 945-8515, ext. 516

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