New Colorado Oil and Gas Regulations

Oil and gas companies will be required to test the groundwater around new drilling operations in Colorado beginning May 1, 2013. In January, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) approved new rules requiring energy companies to test up to four domestic water wells within a half-mile radius of all new oil and gas wells both before and after drilling begins. The rule aims to ensure that drilling and fracking are not contaminating groundwater. In addition, in February the COGCC voted to raise the minimum distance between wells and homes as well as other buildings to at least 500 feet statewide. The reason for the increased setback, among other issues (e.g., increases in dust, noise, etc.), were water contamination and quality issues. Previously, the state’s minimum distance was 150 feet in rural areas and 350 feet in urban settings. But starting August 1st, new wells drilled in Colorado must be at least 500 feet from buildings.