Colorado producers on Friday raised the ante in their concerns about a state agency’s efforts to establish new rules on setbacks for oil and natural gas drilling operators, gaining support from local business groups for a fact sheet citing the economic benefits that resource production brings to the state.

Now that the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) has drafted proposed rules for setbacks and groundwater sampling (see Shale Daily, Dec. 14), the Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA) has marshaled a business coalition that is emphasizing the “interdependence” of the state’s commerce with the oil/gas sector.

“Most communities in Colorado understand the importance of energy production and are cognizant of each community’s deep interdependence on oil and gas resources,” said COGA CEO Tisha Schuller, in releasing endorsements from the Colorado Automobile Dealers Association, the Grand Junction (CO) Area Chamber of Commerce, the Association of General Contracts of Colorado, and the Rocky Mountain chapter of the Associated Builders and Contractors.

“While conversations will continue about how to develop Colorado’s resources well, [citizens] fundamentally take responsibility for their energy use and embrace our economic and energy opportunities,” Schuller said.

COGA and state officials have emphasized a voluntary, collaborative approach to environmental and operating protections for the oil and gas industry. In August a voluntary effort was launched to start a baseline groundwater quality sampling program before and after drilling (see Shale Daily, Aug. 4). It was billed as a joint effort among oil/gas producers, Gov. John Hickenlooper and the state Department of Natural Resources at an annual energy conference in Denver hosted by COGA.

COGA said on Friday that the coalition of stakeholders supporting a collaborative approach is an “ever-increasing diverse” group.

As the COGCC rulemaking process continues to assess the relative merits of well setbacks ranging from 1,000 to 350 feet, COGA said that the 1,000-foot setback will have “numerous repercussions” to all stakeholders in the state, including the oil/gas industry, farmers, ranchers, developers and others.

“Increased setbacks will increase the amount of energy, costs and resources required to assess the oil and gas resource,” said COGA. In addition, the increased distances will lessen the amount of energy, food and fiber producing land and ultimately the crop production statewide, it said.