Denver Business Journal – May 27, 2016
A proposed ballot measure, No. 78, that calls for a mandatory 2,500-foot buffer zone around oil and gas operations, would, if approved by voters, effectively choke off oil and gas development across about 90 percent of the state of Colorado, according to a study released Friday afternoon by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.
Colorado currently ranks seventh in the nation for crude oil production, and sixth nationwide for natural gas production.
In the five counties that make up most of the oil and gas production in Colorado, the percentage of land where new oil and gas development would be banned is even higher under Amendment 78’s new wider setback zone, according to the COGCC’s study.
The COGCC is the state agency charged with regulating Colorado’s oil and gas operations.
The study, available here, said that if the ballot initiative is approved by voters, 95 percent of the land in Weld, Garfield, La Plata, Rio Blanco, and Las Animas, would be off limits to new oil and gas operations.
No. 78 calls for a mandatory setback of at least 2,500 feet for new oil and gas facilities, including wells that are fracked, from occupied buildings or “areas of special concern.” It’s one of four proposals aimed at the oil and gas industry.
“Areas of special concern” are defined in the proposal as including drinking water sources, lakes, rivers, streams or streambeds, creeks, irrigation canals, riparian areas, playgrounds, sports fields, public parks, open space or amphitheaters.
Dan Haley, the president and CEO of the Colorado Oil & Gas Association (COGA), an industry trade group, on Friday called the report, and its accompanying maps detailing the impacts, “the smoking gun that anti-oil and gas activists have been trying to hide.”