Skip to main content
TAKE ACTION: Encourage La Plata County to Pass Strong Oil and Gas Regulations

The comment window for this action alert has closed.

Thanks for your interest! To stay involved and receive updates, please sign up for our emails.

La Plata County’s Board of County Commissioners needs to hear from you. Encourage them to adopt strong oil and gas regulations!

We’re facing strong opposition from the oil and gas industry. We need to work together to protect our community from oil and gas industry impacts. Let’s encourage La Plata County to enact strong regulations!

Overheard comments on Chapter 90:

  • “There are no public health public effects from oil and gas” — Clark Craig, La Plata County Planning Commissioner
  • “We are a county that receives a substantial amount of its revenue from oil and gas … Do we really need all this?” — Charly Minkler, La Plata County Planning Commissioner 
  • “These are onerous setbacks, and to me those are neither necessary or reasonable” —  Charly Minkler, La Plata County Planning Commissioner
  • “I spent 25 years in oil and gas, [these regulations] are challenging for me.”— Clark Craig
Want to hear more? Watch the full meeting here

You heard it right, La Plata County’s Planning Commission is prioritizing industry interest over public health and safety, and they are recommending that our elected Board of Commissioners do the same. 

A bit of background:

Late last year, the Board of County Commissioners heard our call for strong industry regulations and acted in favor of the community, approving strong setback regulations and financial assurances. If enacted, these regulations will be the strongest on the Western Slope! However, the Planning Commission was looped back in for its recommendations and is not only friendly to industry, but some commissioners have active gas wells or have worked for the industry. It’s hard to be objective when your financial gain is at risk. 

On March 23rd, the Planning Commission overhauled the current proposed regulations, recommending that the Board of County Commissioners roll back necessary community protections. Now the regulations are back at the Board of County Commissioners’ desk to make the final decision of whether to stick to their original convictions outlined in version 2 of the draft Chapter 90 or follow the recommendations of the Planning Commission. 

We have all worked hard the past five months to make sure these regulations secure vital community protections from the oil and gas industry, but the Planning Commission has backtracked on those protections.

It is now up to our County Commissioners to take a stand for our health and our environment, and they need to hear from you. 

What you can do:

Call or email County Commissioners:

What to say:

  • The Planning Commission wants to eliminate the minimum 500-foot setbacks from homes.  The Board of Commissions should not follow the Planning Commission’s recommendations that favor industry over public health.   They should support their original recommendations encompassed in version 2 of the chapter 9 regulations that contain a 500-ft hard setback from homes.   
  • The Board of Commissioners’ four public hearings were fair and allowed in-depth presentations about the issues.  Some Planning Commissioners admitted that they were not “not paying attention” to this issue and did not listen to the setback presentations. The Board of Commissioners should stick to their original prioritization of community health and well-being over oil and gas. 
  • Why we need minimum 500-foot setbacks from homes:  
    • 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 ethyl toluene. 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.
    • Nuisance impacts such as noise, odors, light, and dust are reduced with distance.  
    • Allowing landowners to waive 500-foot setbacks from homes has allowed developers to permit oil and gas development in the middle of subdivisions – placing families’ health at risk.
  • Why La Plata County, not the COGCC, should make siting decisions:
    • The Board of Commissioners agreed that we should have local control over the issue rather than the Denver-based Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, but the planning commission is casting doubt on local control.   
    • 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.  In December, 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 put La Plata County at risk.  State oil and gas priorities should not trump the needs of our community.  Local regulations can ensure we have both industry profits and protection of public health and safety.
  • 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 and by keeping the hard 500-foot setbacks in our regulations. 

When to show up:

  • April 18th at 10am at the County Building the Board of Commissioners will hear public comment. 
  • We understand that since this is during work hours, this 10 am public comment time will, unfortunately, favor the voices of industry, who can comment as part of their employment. Thankfully, our Board Commissioners have been receptive to both phone calls and emails, so we encourage you to reach out to them as soon as possible.

Remember: The most impactful thing you can do is make the call or email personal and let the Planning Commission know why community protections from extractive industries matter to you! 

Don’t let La Plata County miss this opportunity to enact community-wide safeguards.


Email Emelie Frojen at