Rulemaking Moves Forward at the COGCC

After years of discussion in Broomfield and elsewhere about the need for changes to Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) regulations, at least three areas of rulemaking are moving forward on school setbacks, forced pooling and financial assurance requirements.

1) School Setback Rulemaking

The COGCC is in the rulemaking process to consider a change to measure the 1000 foot setback from the boundary of school property instead of the door of a school building.  The final stakeholder meeting will take place on Friday, October 5 from 2 p.m. – 4 p.m. at the COGCC Denver Office and the rest of the schedule can be found here.

On the first day of the COGCC July Hearings, the Commissioners voted 6-3 to grant a petition put forth by the League of Oil and Gas Impacted Coloradans (LOGIC) at the end of 2017 to have the COGCC engage in rulemaking regarding its 1000 foot setback rule from schools.  Previous attempts to pass related 2018 legislation were successful in the House and died in the Senate.  HB 18-1352 was sponsored by Rep. Mike Foote, Rep. Matt Gray, Sen. Matt Jones and Sen. Irene Aguilar.

2) Forced Pooling Rulemaking

Forced pooling rulemaking is underway and will continue with a hearing on Wednesday, October 3 at the COGCC Denver Office at 9 a.m.

LOGIC is a party in the rulemaking and filed a prehearing party statement that you can read here.  Referring to changes made in Senate Bill 18-230, the LOGIC statement requests that citizens be given the full “60-day statutory period… to tender of a reasonable offer to lease before the [forced pooling] hearing.”  This was included in reaction to Extraction Oil and Gas’s July 24 letter to Broomfield mineral owners which attempted to shorten this period.

The LOGIC prehearing statement also seeks to include clarification in the forced pooling rules regarding liability.  It states that “Consistent with SB 18-230, the Rules should provide that any pooling order issued by the Commission must ‘specify that a nonconsenting owner is immune from liability for costs arising from spills, releases, damage, or injury resulting from oil and gas operations in the drilling unit.’ …The current rules impose liability during the penalty phase, and also indicate that mineral owners become working interest owners after the penalty phase, and are then liable as though they participated voluntarily. Consistent with the statute, the rules should clearly exclude such liability.”

According to the City’s Oil and Gas webpage, Broomfield is participating in this forced pooling rulemaking along with other Front Range local governments.

3) Financial Assurance Requirements

Anthem Ranch resident Brad Gibson is participating in the Governor’s technical working group reviewing the current weak financial assurance requirements for oil and gas operators.  Brad is participating as a private citizen, formerly with the Broomfield Comprehensive Plan Oil and Gas Task Force and not as part of any advocacy organization.  Brad made valuable contributions to the discussion related to bonding and liability of operators while a member of the Task Force but the City was hampered in its ability to impose stricter financial assurance requirements because of State rules.

The working group is expected to report to Governor Hickenlooper by the end of the year with COGCC rulemaking next year, according to the Broomfield Oil and Gas webpage.