Conservationists Urge Greater Setbacks and Closure of Loophole

Photo by jeffreyw via Creative Commons.

September 18, 2012

Citizens for a Healthy Community and 12 other organizations have asked Matt Lepore, the new Director of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC), to increase the setback distance between drilling rigs and residences, schools, playgrounds/sports fields/parks, hospitals, nursing homes, and other similar facilities to 2,000′ with an extra 100′ for each additional onsite wellbore.

The current setback is 350 feet in highly-populated areas, and only 150 feet in rural areas.

The groups delivered a letter (PDF) to Director Lepore that asked for the COGCC to address the issue immediately. The letter also requests the COGCC close a setback loophole that would allow existing wells to be re-drilled and fracked near existing structures.

“This Setback Loophole allows any ‘completed’ well to be re-entered and re-drilled regardless of proximity to a structure,” the letter states. “There are approximately 4,000 active oil and gas wells that are closer to residential structures than the COGCC setback mandate of 350’. There are also approximately 82,000 abandoned wells in Colorado, and early statistics show that approximately 55% of abandoned wells are being re-entered and re-drilled, meaning there could eventually be tens of thousands of wells closer to residential structures than the current setback mandates.”

To read the letter, click here (PDF).