Conservation Organizations Weigh in on Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, Mission Change Rulemaking

DENVER — Today, as the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) kicks off their historic mission change rulemaking, Conservation Colorado, the League of Oil and Gas Impacted Coloradans (LOGIC), Colorado Sierra Club, and Western Colorado Alliance expressed their appreciation for the staff and commissioners who are leading this process. 

These groups will monitor and advocate for Coloradans’ health and safety in the following areas of the rulemaking process:

  • Cumulative Impacts – A cornerstone of Senate Bill 19-181, the Commission should improve the cumulative impact assessment rule to better protect public health, safety, and the environment by requiring a cumulative health impact assessment in addition to considering impacts on climate, lands, water, and wildlife. This analysis should also be overseen by the agency. Allowing the oil and gas industry to conduct this analysis, without greater oversight, would be a failure to uphold the agency’s mission to put health and safety first.
  • Local Governments – Another critical component of SB 181 allows local governments to adopt stronger regulations than the minimum statewide standards provided by the COGCC. The Commission should uphold the integrity of the law by applying the newly drafted rules  statewide, and ensure all Coloradans are guaranteed the same baseline protection.  
  • Setbacks – Lastly, the Commission should adopt a stronger residential setback rule, which as proposed is both arbitrary and inadequate to protect public health and safety. This is particularly true when schools are provided a more protective setback. The CDPHE has studied the health impacts of living in close proximity to oil and gas development. This science should be presented to the Commission to ensure their votes are informed by this taxpayer funded science. 

COGCC staff have worked tirelessly over the past several months to draft rules to protect public health, safety, and the environment. We applaud their work. The Commission will now hear from their staff, the nearly 100 parties, and the thousands of members of the public who have commented on the rules, and vote. The Commission has also provided increased opportunity for the public to participate in the process, and the organizations look forward to continuing to work with staff to further expand upon and improve transparency and processes for public participation. 

Support for these rules exists from residents across the state, including youth, local elected officials, business owners, public health experts, former commissioners and state legislators. The people of Colorado are counting on the COGCC to deliver strong statewide rules that protect health and safety.

Conservation leaders released the following statements in response:

“When it comes to oil and gas drilling in our state, the public supports protecting our health, safety and environment. As the COGCC embarks on this historic Mission Change rulemaking, we urge them to adopt comprehensive rules that set minimum statewide standards to protect all Coloradans, no matter which part of our state they call home. Our 60,000 members and a robust network of local elected officials, state legislators and business owners are counting on you.”

Kelly Nordini, Executive Director, Conservation Colorado

“Oil and gas impacted Coloradans have waited a long time and put in thousands of hours just to get to this point – rulemaking to protect public health, safety, welfare, the environment and wildlife resources. It is long past time that the state take an active role in holding the oil and gas industry accountable for its cumulative impacts to our climate, public health, safety, our air and water on a statewide basis. The impacts of oil and gas development on Colorado neighborhoods are long past proven, and applying strong setbacks and stringent requirements regarding air, water, wildlife and operations statewide are imperative to fulfilling the COGCC’s new mandate. The dozens of oil and gas impacted communities LOGIC represents can’t continue to wait.” 

Sara Loflin, Executive Director, LOGIC

On behalf of the Colorado Sierra Club’s more than 100,000 members and supporters across Colorado, we urge the COGCC to adopt the strongest oil and gas rules possible in order to protect the health and safety of Colordans from the harmful effects of poor air quality. It takes courage to pass rules that are bold and that protect all communities and people, and we are looking to the COGCC to do just that. The oil and gas industry cannot continue to take priority over human life and our environment, and we look forward to seeing stronger, more equitable rules that will protect our health and safety.”

– Emily Gedeon, Acting Chapter Director, Colorado Sierra Club 

“These Commissioners have a historic decision in front of them. We ask the COGCC to strengthen and adopt common sense rules to fulfill their mission to protect people in all regions of Colorado living with the impacts of oil and gas development. Western Coloradans have long worked with the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commision to improve the rules for oil and gas development in this state. After decades of incremental changes, the time has come to adopt comprehensive protections that truly protect the public health and safety of our communities as well as our environment and wildlife.” 

– Emily Hornback, Executive Director, Western Colorado Alliance for Community Action