Oil and gas school setback bill clears committee

Mar 26, 2017

The proposed bill comes in reaction to proposals for oil and gas wells in close proximity to schools. Ursa Resources has a proposal for 22 natural gas wells within several hundred feet of Grand Valley High School.
Credit Courtesy of www.garfield16.org/schools

A state bill that would require oil and gas drilling operations to sit farther away from school property has cleared its first hurdle.

Current Colorado law requires that oil and gas facilities are at least 1,000 feet from any high occupancy building, which includes schools. The bill that passed committee last week would set the property line - rather than the physical building - as the measuring point.

Emily Hornbach testified on behalf of the bill last week. She said 1,000 feet is sufficient distance from a school.

“And let’s make sure that it’s uniformly applied, so that when kids are outside playing on playgrounds or running track or waiting for the bus, they are getting those protections,” Hornbach said.  

Hornbach represents the Western Colorado Congress, a citizen group on the Western Slope. Last summer, Ursa Resources submitted a proposal for 22 natural gas wells within 300 feet of Grand Valley High School’s property line.

Don Simpson, vice president of Ursa, said that plan is on hold, but he does not believe the new bill is necessary.

The measure is expected to be heard on the state house floor this week.