Thank you for your willingness to advocate for stronger local setback rules in La Plata County! Last week, La Plata County Commissioners listened to the public comments on their updated Chapter 90 regulations governing oil and gas setbacks (how far a well is required to be “set back” from a home, school, or property line) in the county. Unfortunately, the turnout was mixed, with corporate oil and gas interests having a strong presence in the conversation. This is why we need YOU to call or email our county commissioners and tell them to not defer to the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) in Denver, but rather protect our public health by taking local leadership in setting setback requirements for oil and gas wells.
Who to call/email:
Here are some key points to mention in your call/email:
- The draft La Plata County “setback” rules let the Denver-based state agency, the COGCC, decide when wells can be drilled less than 2,000 ft from homes. This decision should be made at the county level where commissioners are elected and have a better understanding of our community’s needs.
- The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment commissioned a health study that modeled acute health impacts for people living within 2,000 feet of oil and gas wells. The Colorado Department of Public Health study concluded that exposure to air 500 feet from wells “exceeded guideline levels” for benzene, toluene, and ethyltoluenes. Exposure to these chemicals is associated with headaches, nosebleeds, fatigue, and dizziness. Exposure decreased rapidly with distance from the well, leveling out safely at 2,000 feet. Wells less than 2,000 feet from homes or schools pose significant risks, affecting the well-being of those who live nearby.
- Rather than simply deferring to COGCC to regulate our setbacks, La Plata County should adopt rules that give the county local control over oil and gas setback rules and is tailored to reflect La Plata County’s concerns and values.
- Over the past year, the COGCC has permitted 14 locations (with a total of 198 wells) that were less than 2,000 feet from homes. Just last week, the COGCC gave preliminary siting approval to another 19 locations (with 391 wells) that are less than 2,000 feet from a total of 168 homes. Leaving decisions like this in the hands of the COGCC rather than our elected local commissioners puts La Plata County at risk. State oil and gas priorities should not trump the needs of our community.
- The COGCC has acknowledged that local county officials know their community best when it comes to local planning and setback regulations.
- Adams County and Larimer County have both enacted regulations that give the local county control over setbacks in their community. These regulations have been successful in protecting community members and have allowed the county to use its local expertise in regulating setbacks.
- La Plata County has been a national leader in community-focused oil and gas regulations. We should retain that leadership role by taking local control over oil and gas setbacks and siting decisions.
The most impactful thing you can do is make the call or email personal and let the commissioners know why this issue matters to you!