COVER STORY oil and gas cover

Oil and gas well heads are pictured at Great Western Oil & Gas Co.'s Sharp oil and gas well pad south of Brighton, on June 27, 2019, in Adams County. 

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signed Senate Bill 181 in April, establishing new priorities for regulating oil and gas operations. Here's what happens next under the new law:

  • The next hearing on new rules by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission is tentatively scheduled for Nov. 21, with the final hearing set for Sept. 16, 2020. The rules will implement new public health, safety and environmental priorities, measure the impact of state rulemaking, and address how the COGCC will assist local governments.
  • The law changes COGCC's mission from “fostering” the energy industry to “regulating” it, prioritizing public health, safety and environmental concerns.
  • The new law gives local governments more authority over land use related to oil and gas operations in their jurisdiction. Colorado residents will have more opportunities to provide input on oil and gas operations in or near their communities. Local governments will have increased oversight over land use and nuisance related impacts (noise, traffic, etc).
  • The law reorganizes the commission, adding a commissioner with public health expertise. 
  • The COGCC director is required to adopt “objective” criteria to determine if a proposed well or location requires additional analysis to ensure it meets the mission of the legislation. These criteria will incorporate public comments.
  • The COGCC will have two new deputy directors and 24 other new full time employees to provide "critical" technical and administrative support, according to the agency.
  • The law instructs the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission to adopt better rules to minimize emissions, including leak detection, from oil and gas activities. 
  • The state law does not create a moratorium or hold on oil and gas permits, but some communities have taken that step until the new rules are in place.
  • The new law streamlines settling oil and gas drilling disputes, which make up 81% of commission matters, by delegating decisions to administrative law judges.

Source: Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission

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