New Colorado gas, oil permits drop by 96% from year earlier
DENVER (AP) — Colorado oil and gas producers sought only 21 permits to drill new wells this month, a 96% decrease compared with the 522 permit applications at the same time last year.
Colorado producers withdrew 33 permits, while the number of rigs drilling in the state fell from 22 at the year’s start to 15 last week, The Denver Post reports.
Environmental groups wrote to the Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission Tuesday expressing alarm about possible damage if oil and gas producers fail in large numbers.
The industry has been severely damaged by falling demand because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
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The groups said issues of concern include job losses for workers, increased flaring and venting of natural gas, abandoned infrastructure, orphaned wells, and noncompliance with existing rules designed to protect public health, safety and the environment.
“All of these issues come with associated human health and environmental impacts,” said the groups, including Conservation Colorado, the Colorado Sierra Club, the Western Colorado Alliance (WCA), and the League of Oil and Gas Impacted Coloradans.
The state plans to delay hearings on an overhaul of its oil and gas regulations by several weeks.
While oil companies must apply to drill a well, they do not need to inform the state of a well closure, a difference that perplexed oil and gas conservation Commissioner Brenda Haun.
“There should be a form or report or something of shut-in wells so we can track issues with wells that aren’t properly shut-in,” Haun said. “There are a myriad of issues.”
Western Slope elected officials and activist groups also urged the COGCC in a press release Wednesday to continue the rulemaking process as planned, “to develop real, meaningful regulations that protect all Coloradans, the air we breathe, and the environment in which we live and recreate.”
The statement from groups including the WCA, Grand Valley Citizens Alliance and Battlement Concerned Citizens was also signed by 63 local elected officials, including from Glenwood Springs, Carbondale, Pitkin and Eagle counties.
“As a resident living with oil and gas rigs in my neighborhood, I urge the (COGCC) to continue its work to pass strong statewide rules that prioritize public health and safety and the environment,” Dave Devanney, chairman of the Battlement Concerned Citizens in Battlement Mesa, said in the release. “Communities like Battlement Mesa have had to bear the consequences of adverse impacts from oil and gas development for too long. I urge the COGCC to stay the course and adopt the strongest rules possible in order to fulfill its new mission.”
Glenwood Springs Post Independent staff contributed to this report.
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