Environmentalists push for even greater drilling setbacks in Colorado

The oil and gas industry in Colorado could face even stricter drilling setback requirements if an environmental group gets its way.

Colorado Rising, described as a grassroots anti-fracking group has filed six ballot measures with the secretary of state. Five of the measures would increase setbacks between drilling rigs and homes up from the baseline 500 feet for homes and 1,000 feet for schools.

The group said this week that one of the setback measures would increase setbacks to 2,500 feet between drilling rigs and homes, schools, open space and waterways according to a report by the Colorado Independent.


According to an analysis by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, which regulates the industry, a setback of that distance would have the effect of outlawing oil and gas drilling in more than half the state. The four other setback measures are incrementally less restrictive, some of which give landowners the right to waive the setback requirements. Advocates are also pushing a ballot measure that would more than double the maximum bond amount that companies have to front for potential reclamation costs before they can receive a permit.

Protect Colorado, an industry-backed political expenditure committee, helped to squash setback attempts in 2014, 2016 and 2018. In 2018, the industry outspent advocates nearly 40-1, spending about $40 million to help defeat Prop. 112, which failed 45% to 55%. Protect Colorado also backed a separate ballot measure, Amendment 74, that would have required the state or local governments to compensate mineral owners for any lost wealth due to oil and gas regulations. Many Democrats, including Gov. Jared Polis and former Gov. John Hickenlooper, opposed Prop. 112.

Industry groups have already weighed in on this year’s efforts.

“This is déjà vu all over again. Last election, Coloradans decisively defeated an energy industry ban that would have shredded private property rights and put working families on the unemployment line,” said Dan Haley, president and CEO of the Colorado Oil & Gas Association.

“The existing framework set forth by the various state agencies regulating our industry is intended to protect public health, safety, welfare and the environment, and it has proven to be successful for many years,” said Lynn Granger, executive director for the Colorado Petroleum Council.

Source: Colorado Independent