Earthworks: 2000ft setback welcome, but COGCC must go further to protect health and climate

Background: On Wednesday, four of five Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) commissioners expressed support for extending setback requirements for new oil and gas operations to 2000ft, up from 500ft, to protect public health and safety. Supporters cited a CDPHE study from October 2019 that found health impacts from Colorado oil and gas operations as far away as the newly proposed setback distance. Commissioners will cast an official vote on the setback requirement later this month.

 Statement of Earthworks’ Energy Program Director Bruce Baizel:

 “Climate science tells us that we need to stop permitting new oil and gas extraction to limit global warming to 1.5°C and avoid climate catastrophe. Yet, so long as new wells are being permitted, it’s good news that a majority of the COGCC commissioners support calls to increase setbacks to 2000ft from homes and schools.

 “But the new rule is cold comfort to the 250,000+ Coloradans already living with the health and quality of life impacts of oil and gas operations. Further, it fails to address oil and gas climate pollution just as extreme weather this year has made real what climate catastrophe looks like.

 “Earthworks recommits to our previous call for Colorado regulators to begin to continuously and comprehensively monitor pollution from existing oil and gas production sites while it works to fully implement the reforms passed by the legislature last year.”

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