Arapahoe County Commissioners Enact 3,000 Foot Oil and Gas Setbacks!


On November 14, 2023, the Arapahoe County Board of County Commissioners approved 3,000 foot setbacks for oil and gas wells from all occupied structures, in addition to maintaining the County’s recently adopted one mile setback from all existing or planned and permitted drinking water reservoirs. The Board voted 3-2 in support, after hours of public comment and hundreds of written testimonials throughout Colorado’s third most populous county. Thanks to so many concerned residents for speaking out!   

Although the adopted regulations do include a waiver provision that would allow the setbacks from occupied structures to be reduced to 1,500 feet (with approval through administrative review), or down to 1,000 feet (with unanimous approval by property owners), advocates expect and hope that these waivers will not be the norm.

Even compared to Boulder County, often touted as having some of the most protective oil and gas setbacks in the state at 2,500 feet, Arapahoe County’s newly adopted regulations represent some of the greatest setback requirements for any local jurisdiction.

While we applaud the County for taking action, we recognize that there is still much more work to be done as many county residents slated to live as little as 1,500 feet from the lights, sounds, smells, and toxic emissions are still under direct threat of oil & gas drilling impacts. Public comment also outlined a steadfast commitment to enacting setbacks for oil and gas wells of no less than one mile, under any circumstances.

STAR Group Photo from hearing

As Kevin Chan, the Founder of Save the Aurora Reservoir (STAR) and Board Member of the Southshore Metro District stated on Tuesday, Save the Aurora Reservoir stands with the clear science that setbacks of no less than one mile are the minimally protective standard for safety, health, welfare, and the environment. Even so, we are grateful to the County for their work of meaningfully increasing the standard setback distance to better protect our communities. This victory is by no means the end of our fight for our neighborhoods, but it gives us hope.”

While we celebrate the momentum of this step in the right direction, we will continue to fight for the health and safety of our air, water, land and communities from these unsafe and unhealthy drilling operations!  Stay tuned!

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