Sparring Over Oil and Gas Rule Drafts

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The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission has scaled back rules for oil and gas drilling in Colorado. They say it's in the interest of public safety, but environmental groups say it's a slap in the face.

On Wednesday the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission submitted a second set of clarifications to the set of rules put forth in March. They say this is a response to input provided, including input from last weeks meeting in Grand Junction. David Neslin, acting director of Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission says, "what we've done is to adjust some of the language to better reflect our intent and we think to better accomplish our objectives in a more efficient manner."

Neslin says nothing has been wiped out of the draft rules or proposals, there are simple modifications to try and achieve a middle ground between the oil and gas industry and the public.
He says the draft changes are, "to protect public health, safety, welfare, the environment, and wildlife; while also allowing the oil and gas industry to continue to flourish in Colorado."

Matt Sura of Western Colorado Congress disagrees, he sees these proposed changes as being detrimental to the public health. One change that concerns him is the proposal to allowing drilling 300 feet from a water source as opposed to 500 feet. Sura says, "clean drinking water is in short supply in western Colorado and we need to do everything we can to protect it."

Another modification Sura and the WCC are concerned about is the wildlife protection clause that would mitigate drilling for 90 days, "they allowed for, and still allow for, in this new draft two ways of getting out of those requirements."

Sura says companies would be excluded if directional drilling is used, or if they choose to consult with the Division of Wildlife. Neslin says that the wildlife provisions have been mischaracterized and he hopes that putting out the new draft this week will give the commissioners ample time to consider it before the hearings continue next week.

The rule making hearings will continue Monday in Denver. The final rules are expected in August.

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