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Rulemaking and Setbacks

COGCC adopts Setback Rules


The Colorado Oil and Gas Commission (COGCC) adopted new and amended Setback Rules on February 11, 2013.  These Rules shall become effective on August 1, 2013.


Highlights of the Rules include:


·        Increase of the existing setback distances of 350 feet in High Density Areas and 150 feet elsewhere to a uniform 500 feet statewide.

·        Impose technically advanced best management practices and protective measures to eliminate, minimize or mitigate potential nuisances and other adverse impacts for all Oil and Gas locations within 1,000 feet of occupied buildings.

·        Oil and Gas locations may not be located within 1,000 feet of specified “High Occupancy Buildings”, including schools, day care centers, hospitals, nursing homes, and correctional facilities.

·        Enhanced notification to and communication with Building Unit owners within 1,000 feet of oil and gas operations.


According to the Statement of Basis and Purpose, “these Setback Rules are not intended to address potential human health impacts associated with air emissions related to oil and gas development.  The Commission, after consulting with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), believes that there are numerous data gaps related to oil and gas development’s potential effect on human health and that such data gaps warrant further study.”


The complete rules can be found on the COGCC’s website.

Clean Air Matters


The CDPHE (Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment) Air Pollution Control Division (APCD) is continuing with its 2013 Rulemaking Effort regarding Oil & Gas air emissions.  The second stakeholder meeting was held on February 28th.  This meeting focused on additional controls for ALL storage tanks in order to reduce VOC, hydrocarbon (methane, butane, etc.), and greenhouse gas emissions.


Proposed storage tank controls include:


·      Lowering the current 20 tpy (tons per year) threshold to 6 typ.  Currently only tanks that produce 20 tpy or more are required to have emission controls.

·      Maintain an average control efficiency of 95%.

·      Include all storage tanks and tank batteries (currently crude oil tanks and produced water tanks are not regulated).


Currently, controlled tanks have issues with flare devices not capturing and combusting all possible flash gases and hatches are letting gases escape (leaking).


Proposed fixes include:


·      Require that storage tanks with required control devices have “no detectable emissions”.

·      Still subject to 95% control.

·      Require Auto-Igniters on flare devices (fix pilot out issues).

·      Expand leak detection and require periodic infrared camera inspection.


APCD would like to reduce venting and flaring of gas stream from well sites.  Currently the vast majority of gas produced at oil and gas sites in Colorado is routed to a pipeline.  APCD is aware of about 60 facilities that are flaring natural gas in Northern Colorado instead of routing that gas to a pipeline.  About $18 million in natural gas is flared each year from these facilities.  Flared gas could heat over 77,000 homes.


Complete information and a Livestream broadcast of the meeting can be found on the CDPHE's website.  


Comments/feedback can be sent to Stefanie Rucker ( or Clay Clarke ( at the CDPHE APCD.


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