Sierra Club, others seek more space around gas wells
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
DENVER, Colorado – The Sierra Club Rocky Mountain Chapter and other groups and individuals have asked Colorado oil and gas regulators to change its rules governing how close a drilling rig can be to residential and other structures.
The request, sent Sept. 14, asks the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to increase the minimum setbacks from homes and buildings for gas wells, which currently are set at 350 feet in high density residential areas and 150 feet in rural, low density areas.
The club calls for a setback of 2,000 feet for the first well bore, plus 100 feet for each additional well bore on a well pad, according to a letter sent to Matthew Lepore, director of the COGCC.
The letter asks for a new setback regulation for wells being drilled near residences, schools, playgrounds/sports fields, parks, hospitals, nursing homes and other similar facilities.
The need for new rules, the Sierra Club believes, is to offset “probably adverse impacts to the environment and human health from oil and natural gas development that uses hydraulic fracturing (fracking),” according to the club’s letter.
The industry, however, maintains that the Sierra Club is off base.
David Ludlam, executive director of the Western Slope Colorado Oil and Gas Association, an industry group, said the industry’s position will be defended.
“COGA, our statewide affiliate, will represent the interests of WSCOGA and many West Slope operators in ongoing and future rulemaking,” he wrote in a statement to the Post Independent.
“As an organization, [COGA] will bring to the table fact-based, respectful and substantive information, much like what was done in the successful hydraulic fracturing disclosure rulemaking process [in 2011 and 2012]. If others choose not to do the same, that’s their choice,” Ludlam concluded.
The industry has long maintained that the COGCC is charged with regulating drilling activities, and that its rules are sufficient to protect the public’s health and safety.
Other organizations involved in the request include the Wilderness Workshop of Carbondale, Western Colorado Congress in Grand Junction, Unite NOW of Commerce City and Adams County, Citizens for a Healthy Community in Hotchkiss, the Rocky Mountain Recreation Initiative in Nederland, and several individuals.
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