Colorado Regulators Considering Even Larger Drilling Setbacks

  • Joe Wertz

State oil and gas regulators in Colorado are considering rules that would expand the minimum buffer between wells and buildings.

Colorado requires 150-foot setbacks in rural areas and 350-foot buffers in urban parts of the state. Earlier this year, regulators there said they were considering making 350 feet the standard in both areas. The latest draft of the rules calls for 500-foot setbacks, the Associated Press reports:

That’s raising concerns from not just energy companies but also the real estate and agriculture industries, among others.

In Oklahoma, there are no state laws that prevent drilling near homes and buildings. Landowners without surface or mineral rights have no say in drilling near their homes, which can bring dust, noise and traffic without any compensation.

Environmental groups are concerned about health effects of living near rigs and want even larger setbacks, but opponents like the Colorado Association of Home Builders say “there is little scientific evidence to support increasing the setbacks,” the AP reports:

Raising that to 500 feet could leave chunks of land unavailable for new buildings, affecting builders’ profits, said Colorado Association of Home Builders CEO Amie Mayhew. A developer’s costs of leaving land near rigs untouched could be passed on to other buyers in a subdivision, boosting costs for home buyers, she said.