Rules and Regulations

Local Government Jurisdiction

Prior to April 16 of 2019, oil and gas development in Colorado was regulated almost entirely by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC). The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment had and still has control over air quality for oil and gas operations. While county governments generally have authority under the Local Government Land Use Control Enabling Act to regulate land use within their jurisdiction, that authority was largely pre-empted by state law and regulation for oil and gas operations. With that state law pre-emption, the County’s authority was limited to matters concerning traffic, access road construction, use and maintenance of county roads, emergency response planning, erosion control, weed control and floodplain encroachment. Because of this pre-emption, in May of 2013, the County adopted an administrative approval process that was available to oil and gas developers so long as they agreed to a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), which addressed certain concerns regarding oil and gas operations. The County MOU has been signed by eight of the County’s oil and gas operators. Under the administrative process for those operator who signed the MOU, an application for an oil and gas well site could be approved administratively without public hearings. This enabled a quicker review time in exchange for the stricter approval conditions found in the MOU. These MOU conditions include baseline water sampling, berm inspections, access road standards, a requirement for emergency response plans and application noticing requirements. Other than the provisions in the MOU, operators continued to operate under COGCC’s rules.

Colorado Senate Bill 19-181  removed the state pre-emption of local jurisdictions in oil and gas well siting decisions. With the bill in place, Arapahoe County began to compile potential topics for draft regulations, based on seven years of stakeholder input. In late 2019, small stakeholder groups were engaged to provide further input on topics. To balance the needs of the community while allowing for responsible development, the County sought input from citizens, regulatory agencies, emergency services, industry representatives, developers/home builders, utility companies and fellow jurisdictions. The current considerations fall under Quality of Life, Health and Safety and The Process and can be explored in detail at www.arapahoegov.com/oilandgas.

In January 2020, public workshops will be held to obtain broad public input on the current topics for consideration. Additionally, an online survey will be available to gather further input. In February 2020, regulations will be drafted, followed by a public review/comment period prior to review and decision making by both the Planning Commission and Board of County Commissioners for potential approval during public hearings. See the full timeline here.

Oil and gas development in Arapahoe County will continue to be regulated by the COGCC, the provisions in the MOU and Chapter 12, Section 1900 of the Arapahoe County Land Development Code, until new rules are adopted (if adopted).

Helpful Resources for Oil and Gas Development in Unincorportated Arapahoe County:

Pipelines

Pipeline construction and operation is federally regulated in Arapahoe County to ensure safety. Arapahoe County has the authority to permit land use pipeline applications.

State of Colorado Rules and Regulations for Oil and Gas Operations

Oil and gas operations in Colorado are governed primarily by statutory provisions of the Oil and Gas Conservation Act and rules promulgated by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC).

The COGCC regulates oil and gas drilling and production in Colorado by issuing permits for the drilling and operation of oil and gas wells and facilities, and enforcing rules for well spacing, setbacks, well bore construction, treatment and disposal of waste, well abandonment, and well site reclamation. 

Other State Agencies

Other state agencies with regulatory authority for oil and gas operations concerning air quality, water quality, wildlife management and historic preservation are: 

  • Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE)
  • Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW)
  • Colorado Office of Archaeology and Historic Preservation