Colorado Oil &Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) Approves 2,000 Foot Setbacks
COGCC Loopholes Still Allow Oil and Gas Operators to Endanger Communities and Environment
DENVER, CO, November 23, 2020 – Today, COGCC commissioners finalized a 2,000–foot setback rule for new oil and gas operations to be placed away from homes, schools, and other protected areas. The new setback comes as part of the rulemaking process required under Senate Bill 19–181 which mandates the prioritization of public health, safety, and welfare of residents. Previous setback distances allowed massive industrial oil and gas operations to occur as close as 500 feet from homes and 1,000 feet from schools and high–occupancy buildings.
However, the industry can still seek to override those setbacks with a request for a variance from the Commission. A variance is essentially a license to break the law. Medical studies, along with dozens of gas leaks and explosions demonstrate the risk of severe health impacts of living near oil and gas operations. In October 2019, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment released a long–awaited study that confirmed the “possibility of negative health impacts at distances from 300 feet out to 2,000 feet.”
Colorado Rising also advocated to expand standing by allowing every affected person to protest oil and gas development, which was adopted by the Commission. Also, as a result of one of our cases against the COGCC, the Commission agreed to further clarify byrule that oil and gas operators hold the burden of proof when they file any applications for permits. No longer will hearing officers be able to shift that burden to those protesting oil and gas applications.
Colorado Rising has taken a lead to litigate cases against the oil and gas industry in Colorado and was recently called the “chief adversary” of the industry. “This rulemaking process has been a herculean effort engaged in by community members and others who cherish our environment and communities. While there are still several loopholes we will have to close, Colorado Rising is looking forward to litigating these new rules in order to protect our communities from this abusive industry,” said Joe Salazar, Executive Director and Chief Litigator for Colorado Rising.
###Colorado Rising is a statewide, 501(c)4, grassroots organization working to protect our communities from the dangers to public health and safety of fossil fuel operations to promote the transition off fossil fuels, and to protect our environment for future generations.