Colorado regulators on Tuesday unanimously approved oil and natural gas setback rules covering schools and affiliated properties, essentially endorsing an agreement among school districts and the energy industry.
The rule, which takes effect on Jan. 30, follows hearings by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC). It would keep the setback at 1,000 feet, but measure from property lines instead of buildings. The rulemaking also redefines what a school facility is and includes existing facilities and future projects.
Private schools and their governing bodies, along with child care centers and associated outdoor play areas, are also covered. Waivers may be possible with school governing board and COGCC approval.
Regulators “essentially adopted the consensus agreement with a few minor explanations added” to the statement of basis and purpose," said spokesperson Scott Prestidge of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA).
COGA President Dan Haley said he was "grateful for all who negotiated in good faith, enabling us to reach a successful outcome that will serve this state for years to come. The oil and gas industry participated in countless meetings and conversations over the past year with schools and school districts and environmental groups."
In November, nearly 57% of Colorado voters rejected Proposition 112, which would have increased well site setbacks to 2,500 feet from 500 feet for residences, workplaces and "vulnerable areas" such as playgrounds and public water sources.