Colorado is home to close to 60,000 active oil and gas wells. The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, part of the Department of Natural Resources, is charged with regulating all oil and gas actions in the state, including produced water disposal. “The mission of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) is to regulate the development and production of the natural resources of oil and gas in the state of Colorado in a manner that protects public health, safety, welfare, the environment and wildlife resources.”
In 2019, Senate Bill 181 was passed by Colorado’s legislature, changing the function of the COGCC from “fostering” to “regulating” the Oil and Gas Industry. The Bill allowed local governments to have more say regarding land used in oil and gas activities in their oversight vicinities.
The law also required that objective criteria had to be established to “determine whether a proposed well or location requires additional analysis to ensure it meets the mission of the legislation,” within 30 days of passage of the Bill. Further, it provided for communities and residents to weigh in on Oil and Gas operations happening near them. Promoting such interaction may become a powerful tool for communities in Colorado. An Op/Ed in The Daily Sentinel in August, 2020, stated, “That is also why a representative of our largest agricultural organization, a local ditch rider, and environmental groups from the valley all recently joined a virtual COGCC meeting to urge that rules protect rural communities and provide more certainty to businesses like mine, to the farmers and producers that I rely on, and to the rural economy my business helps supports.”