Colorado, New Mexico County Usher In Oil And Gas Regs
In December, Colorado finalized an overhaul of statewide oil and gas rules, and Santa Fe County, NM formally adopted a local oil and gas ordinance. Both sets of regulations usher in a new generation of oil and gas regulation in which state and county governments are beginning to focus on protections for communities concerned with the industry’s impact on public health, watersheds, private landowners, and overall land use.
As Colorado faces another record-setting year for the issuance of drilling permits, the state formally brought to a close an 18-month process to update and revise its oil and gas regulations. The regulatory overhaul was mandated when the Colorado Legislature reformed the mission and make-up of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) in 2007. On December 11th, the COGCC formally adopted rules that will require the oil and gas industry to consider threats to human health and wildlife at the time a company applies for a permit. The rules establish protection zones around streams situated in watersheds that provide drinking water supplies, require companies to tell state and emergency responders what chemicals they use in drilling operations, and allow state health and wildlife officials to formally consult on oil and gas development applications. The rules also require, as New Mexico has recently done, that an oil or gas well site be cleaned up to general health standards, once the industrial activity is completed.
Earlier in the week Santa Fe County adopted a local ordinance addressing oil and gas development. Additionally, the Santa Fe County ordinance requires that an oil and gas permit applicant consider potential impacts to water quality and quantity, and health impacts to communities. The ordinance puts in place regulations on hydraulic fracturing by promoting the use of fresh water fracturing and the use of products and chemicals that have been approved by Santa Fe County.