On August 1, 2013, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission adopted new setback regulations that threaten to increase the backlog of permit applications at the Commission. According to the Commission, the new regulations are designed to “require Operators to eliminate, minimize, or mitigate impacts of oil and gas operations.” They aim to accomplish this by, among other things, requiring operations to be located farther away from occupied buildings.

The new regulations increase the prior setback distances of 350 feet in high density areas and 150 feet elsewhere to a uniform 500 feet statewide. The regulations also prohibit operations within 1000 feet of high occupancy buildings serving over 50 people, including schools, nursing homes, hospitals, and correctional facilities.

In addition to the setback requirements, the regulations require notice to building owners, surface owners, and local government entities and create increased opportunities for review and comment on proposed operations. The regulations also impose what the Commission calls “technically advanced best management practices” to “eliminate, minimize, or mitigate potential nuisances and adverse impacts.”

Given the record number of permit applications in Colorado this year, particularly for horizontal wells, Colorado producers can expect these new regulations to increase permitting burdens (and costs) and to extend the timeframe needed to secure permits from the Commission.

Coverage of the new regulations can be found here:

The new regulations can be found here:

The Commission’s Statement of Basis and Purpose can be found here: