DENVER -- As state officials craft new rules and regulations for oil and gas drilling in Colorado, Monday is the last day for public comment on the Draft Objective Criteria.
The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) is now in charge of writing newly-approved drilling regulations and rules under SB19-181. The bill, signed into law by Gov. Jared Polis on April 16, is the most significant overhaul of oil and gas regulations in Colorado in 60 years.
"The mission has changed from fostering oil and gas to regulating oil and gas in a manner that's protective of health, safety, welfare and environment," explained recently appointed COGCC Director Jeff Robbins.
It also gives local governments, instead of the state, authority to regulate drilling. Local leaders would also gain power to levy fines for spills, leaks, and emissions and then collect fees to cover those costs.
The COGCC released interim guidelines earlier this month for companies to comply with the law. The commission also outlined proposed steps for handling drilling applications until all the new rules are in place.
One of the proposals being considered is to put applications located in sensitive areas, like those close to homes or water areas, on hold for now. Pending applications not in sensitive areas would move forward as usual.
The new law does not change the setback, which allows new drilling 500 feet from homes and 1,000 feet from schools, but Robbins said that conversation is not off the table.
"We've got the 500-foot setback now, you know, is that re-evaluated? That's sort of has to be seen," said Robbins.
COGCC is taking written comments on the guidelines until April 29.
The commission's first hearing under the new law starts on May 20.