State Commission Prepares to Pass New Rules; Tell the COGCC and Gov. Hickenlooper to Protect the Public from Drilling and Fracking

January 4, 2013

The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) is preparing to adopt new rules that govern how close oil and gas drilling can be to homes and schools.

In rural areas, the old rules required oil and gas drilling to be 150-feet away from residences. The first draft of the new rule proposed a 350-foot setback. The newly proposed draft rule extends this setback to only 500 feet, despite the experience of citizens across Colorado who have suffered health effects from nearby drilling, and despite the results of scientific studies that suggest drilling should be farther away from buildings.

Citizens for a Healthy Community has traveled to Denver to press for a 2,000 foot setback that would be far more protective of human health than anything the Commission, or any other stakeholder group, has proposed to-date.

Tell Gov. Hickenlooper and the COGCC that a 2,000 foot setback is needed to protect the public from the health impacts of oil and gas development.

  • Send an email to COGCC Director Matt Lepore at
  • Complete this online form to contact Gov. Hickenlooper – the Governor does not accept emails unless they are sent using this online form. To complete the form, select “Natural Resources” under Jurisdiction, then select “COGCC” under Topic. For the subject, enter “Setback Rulemaking.” You can copy and paste your email into the “Explanation” field.

The COGCC is meeting from Monday to Wednesday next week and may amend or modify the rules at the meetings.  Send your email to Gov. Hickenlooper and COGCC Director Matt Lepore by Tuesday, Jan. 8th to make sure they receive it prior to deciding on the rules.

– Sample Letter Below –

Re: Setback Rulemaking

Dear Gov. Hickenlooper and Director Lepore:

I am deeply concerned about the current proposal put forth by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) regarding setbacks. I appreciate that the state recognizes the problems created by drilling in and near our communities, but the proposed solutions fall short.  Despite modest improvements, the State’s proposal leaves Coloradans at risk of serious public health impacts.

The COGCC must adhere to its mandate under Colorado law to protect “public health, safety, and welfare, including protection of the environment” (C.R.S. 34-60-102(1)(a)(I)). The currently proposed 500-foot setback is woefully inadequate in meeting this mandate. The rule must include a setback distance of 2,000 feet, plus an additional 100 feet per additional onsite wellbore near residences, schools, playgrounds/sports fields/parks, hospitals, nursing homes, and other similar facilities, due to the concentration of on-site emissions from aggregated wellbores.

A recent public health study found that residents living within ½-mile from oil and gas development are at a greater risk of health effects (McKenzie et. al. Human health risk assessment of air emissions from development of unconventional natural gas resources, Sci Total Environ (2012), doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2012.02.018).

Furthermore, the draft Battlement Mesa Health Impact Assessment’s preliminary findings were very troubling: “gas processes release chemicals that are known to impact health; chemicals emitted into the air from natural gas processes are more likely to impact health than chemicals released into the water or the soil; exposures from air emissions are likely to be highest during well completion activities; and residents living near a well pad (defined as within ½ mile) are more likely to experience health effects than residents living farther away from a well pad (defined as greater than ½ mile)” (Colorado School of Public Health. Draft Battlement Mesa HIA, Revision 1 ES-page II. February 2011).

Please take protective measures to fulfill your duty to protect the public health of Colorado citizens, and select a protective setback of at least 2,000 feet.


[Your Name]
[Your Address]
[City, State ZIP]

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