Friday, December 14, 2012

Changes in the Works for CO Oil and Gas Development

Oil and gas regulators, industry representatives and environmentalists met this week to discuss creating a consistent set of state regulations for oil and gas development. The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission is the body in charge of both promoting and regulating oil and gas development. The current discussion focused on water quality standards. Proposed changes included requiring water testing before and after development in an effort to provide a baseline to hold companies accountable for pollution.

Most groundwater contamination occurs from surface spills during initial drilling; not from fracking activities. Residents near oil and gas development fear groundwater contamination because petroleum material contains benzene, which causes cancer. The new regulations would bring about more accountability, but might bring economic hardship to the state as well.

The proposed regulations are creating investment concerns. "Folks realize there's going to be a testing program," Colorado Petroleum Association President Stan Dempsey said. "It has to be done the right way. If the regulatory situation isn't as certain in Colorado as in another state, (company) investment dollars could flow to another part of the country or another part of the world."

However, oil and gas development companies will also experience benefits as residents will become more comfortable with development through the more rigorous standards. "It is a very rigorous standard," Environmental Defense Fund, Regional Director Dan Grossman said. "If you put in a robust system, you can bolster confidence of people in the state that these actions are being done responsibly."

Colorado Oil and Gas Statistics*
  • There are 49,236 active wells statewide
    • This number is up 31% since 2008 
  • ·         Weld County- 17,844 active wells
    • 40% of spills in this county have reached groundwater 
Angelica Oman
Graduate Program Assistant
*Statistics found at the Denver Post.

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