☰ Menu
Ohio Utica Shale

Colorado regulators approve new rules on drilling

By Bob Downing Published: January 10, 2013

From the Associated Press:

Colorado regulators gave initial approval Wednesday to rules meant to limit the effects of oil and gas drilling on homes.

This includes a rule that increases the distance that rigs must be from occupied buildings.

The rules approved by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission are expected to take effect this summer.

One requires wells to be 500 feet from buildings, up from a 350-foot buffer proposed by the commission earlier. Environmentalists wanted even bigger buffers, while farmers and homebuilders were among those saying the larger distances could limit development or hurt loan values on their land.

Also Wednesday, state health and natural resource officials announced the launch this summer of a study of how oil and gas emissions behave and their characteristics in areas along the northern Front Range, which has become a hotbed for drilling. A second phase would study possible health effects.

Environmentalists said the state-sponsored studies are too little, too late, and amount to using people as "lab rats" to determine if they may be suffering health problems because of drilling.

The actions came on the last day of a three-day hearing to consider updating the state's oil and gas rules.

Earlier this week, the oil and gas commission approved rules requiring groundwater sampling both before and after drilling to ensure drinking water supplies haven't been contaminated.

The rules that got preliminary approval Wednesday include requirements for operators who plan to drill within 1,000 feet of occupied buildings to meet new measures on limiting noise, odor, dust and emissions and to protect against spills. They'd also have to give expanded notice to residents.

Plans to drill within 1,000 feet of schools, hospitals or other high-occupancy buildings would trigger a hearing in front of the commission.

State officials said testimony during the rule making hearing reinforced views of industry and environmental experts that better science is needed for oil and gas emissions.

The study announced Wednesday "marks another important step in our aggressive efforts to ensure oil and gas development is conducted with the highest standards of environmental protection," said Mike King, executive director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources.

Mike Chiropolos, who represented a coalition of environmental groups at the hearing, said heart-wrenching testimony from property owners who believe they have been harmed by drilling operations failed to sway regulators who are considering exceptions to the rules.

"Everybody agrees more studies are needed, but the state has not been doing its job. Regulators have been hearing from citizens of Colorado who don't like living in a science experiment while these studies continue. They don't like being lab rats," Chiropolos said after the meeting.

In May, a Denver district court judge threw out a lawsuit filed by a family from the Western Slope claiming oil and gas drilling caused illnesses. The judge said lawyers for the family failed to provide enough evidence of chemical exposure or any proof the drilling company was responsible for their burning eyes and throats, rashes and headaches.

King said Wednesday that strong science is needed along with strong regulation to build public confidence in an industry that is critical to Colorado's economy.

Last year, Colorado developed a national model for the disclosure of chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing fluids. Regulators also opened a water-quality database to the public and strengthened rules to reduce emissions.

Dr. Chris Urbina, executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, said his agency will work with Colorado State University on the study. It will be similar to an ongoing university-led study of oil and gas emissions in Garfield County on Colorado's Western Slope.

The first phase of the study is projected to last through June 2016. A second phase to develop a health risk assessment would begin in 2016.

Gov. John Hickenlooper, an industry supporter, is seeking $1.3 million from the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission's Environmental Response Fund to get the project off the ground. The money for that fund comes from oil and gas development.



See the most recent drilling report and an injection wells map From
Prev Next

Utica and Marcellus shale web sites

Ohio Department of Natural Resources' Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management State agency Web site.

ODNR Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management. State drilling permits. List is updated weekly.

ODNR Division of Geological Survey.

Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

Ohio State University Extension.

Ohio Farm Bureau.

Ohio Oil and Gas Association, a Granville-based group that represents 1,500 Ohio energy-related companies.

Ohio Oil & Gas Energy Education Program.

Energy In Depth, a trade group.

Marcellus and Utica Shale Resource Center by Ohio law firm Bricker & Eckler.

Utica Shale, a compilation of Utica shale activities.

Landman Report Card, a site that looks at companies involved in gas and oil leases.FracFocus, a compilation of chemicals used in fracking individual wells as reported voluntarily by some drillers.

Chesapeake Energy Corp,the Oklahoma-based firm is the No. 1 driller in Ohio.

Rig Count Interactive Map by Baker Hughes, an energy services company.

Shale Sheet Fracking, a Youngstown Vindicator blog.

National Geographic's The Great Shale Rush.

The Ohio Environmental Council, a statewide eco-group based in Columbus.

Buckeye Forest Council.

Earthjustice, a national eco-group.

Stop Fracking Ohio.

People's Oil and Gas Collaborative-Ohio, a grass-roots group in Northeast Ohio.

Concerned Citizens of Medina County, a grass-roots group.

No Frack Ohio, a Columbus-based grass-roots group.

Fracking: Gas Drilling's Environmental Threat by ProPublica, an online journalism site.

Penn State Marcellus Center.

Pipeline, blog from Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Marcellus shale drilling.

Allegheny Front, environmental public radio for Western Pennsylvania.