New Garfield County oil and gas regulations before commissioners Tuesday

Garfield County commissioners are slated to consider a new set of oil and gas land-use regulations Tuesday afternoon related to the location of facilities such as well pads and accessory structures.

The proposed amendments to the county’s land-use code are in accordance with new state rules allowing for greater local control in certain cases when it comes to the location of facilities.

The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) adopted the new rules last year as part of the implementation of Senate Bill 181, which became law in 2019 and overhauled the way oil and gas development is regulated in Colorado.

Among the new provisions was to allow local governments to have a voice in regulating surface impacts associated with the industry.

“Historically, uses related specifically to oil and gas drilling and production are considered a by-right use in the county (Land Use Development Code), and were solely regulated by the COGCC,” according to a staff report outlining the proposed changes.

A major provision of the new state rules is a required 2,000-foot setback from homes and schools. However, companies can seek what’s called an “alternative location analysis,” which can be reviewed at the local level.

For the past several months, the county has been working with consultants including former COGCC director Matt Lepore, now with Insight Energy Law, to draft new local regulations that would allow for that to occur.

Under the proposed new local regulations, a permit would be required from Garfield County when:

  • COGCC requires an Alternative Location Analysis (ALA) for a new location or modification to an approved location.
  • The operator seeks a variance from noise or light standards.
  • An operator requests a modification to a permit that originally required an ALA and that will require a new COGCC Form 2A to modify.

The new local permitting process would also apply to federally owned (Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service), state and private land, according to the staff report.

The Garfield County Planning Commission heard the proposed new rules on June 9 and voted unanimously to recommend that the Board of County Commissioners approve them. At that hearing, there were requests from the public to increase the development setback from an existing reclaimed abandoned well from 25 feet to 350 feet. The Planning Commission did not incorporate that provision.

County commissioners are scheduled to have a public hearing on the new oil and gas rules at 1 p.m. Tuesday at the Garfield County Administration Building in downtown Glenwood Springs. Meetings are also conducted via Zoom.

Senior Reporter/Managing Editor John Stroud can be reached at 970-384-9160 or

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Glenwood Springs and Garfield County make the Post Independent’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.