The draft rules would require a hearing in front of the oil and gas commission before any drilling within 1,000 feet of schools or other high-occupancy buildings, up from an earlier suggestion of 750 feet.
Mike Chiropolos of the environmental law group Western Resource Advocates said his group supports a 1,500-foot threshold. "For schools and nursing homes and hospitals, it's very simple. You've got very high numbers of vulnerable populations who are in these buildings on a daily basis," he said.
As for the groundwater sampling proposals, he said the exceptions are too wide for operators in the mineral-rich Wattenberg Field in northeast Colorado who only have to sample once per section. Oil and gas commission staffers are contemplating requiring more frequent testing but haven't settled on details yet.
The state's rules are being updated as drilling has moved into more populated areas. The commission has spent nearly a year gathering input from stakeholders including local governments and mineral rights owners.
The Colorado Oil & Gas Association, a trade group, was reviewing the draft rules. The association helped launch a statewide voluntary groundwater testing program. It said any new rules must be "reasonable, cost-effective, fair and responsive to stakeholder interests."
Catherine Tsai is on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/ctsai_denver