State regulators still sorting through oil and gas flowline data

Colorado communities demand accountability

ADAMS COUNTY, Colo -- State regulators are still wading through the results of oil and gas flowline inspections in the wake of a deadly explosion. 

Back in May, Governor John Hickenlooper called for a review of flowlines within 1,000 feet of homes. During that time, calls for more regulation have continued to grow louder in the communities impacted by growing oil and gas development.

"I think the communities are filling a void that the state should fill," said Jennifer Gamble, President of Adams County Communities for Drilling Accountability Now.

The Town of Erie recently passed an ordinance requiring oil and gas operators to map pipelines. Lafayette City Council is currently weighing a similar measure.

Gamble would like to see greater setbacks between wells and neighborhoods. Her group is currently fighting a proposed plan that could put upwards of 60 wells approximately 750 feet from neighborhoods.

"I recognize the need for oil and gas development, I just think it should not be within neighborhoods," said Gamble.

The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) is continuing to review data from the governor's order. Staff have reviewed and identified 120,815 flowline segments within 1,000 feet of homes and buildings. Of those flowlines, 428 did not pass an integrity test.

"We know more about flow lines near homes than we’ve ever known before," said Todd Hartman, spokesperson for the COGCC. "We want to see zero failures but that does represent one third of one percent of the lines we’re looking at, so it’s a small figure."

According to the COGCC, test result data is missing for approximately 13,000 lines.

"We’re trying to figure out if these lines exist, if these lines are within the scope of the order, why don’t we have integrity test results for them. We’re reaching out to operators and trying to learn all that," said Hartman.

He expects the COGCC will be able to verified the data and have a more complete picture by the end of the year.

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