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Colorado county drill blow for shale players

A Colorado county has become the first in that US state to approve new regulations on oil and gas development in a unanimous vote that will increase well setback distances to 1000 feet, following the state-wide adoption of Senate Bill 181 in April, writes Julia Martinez.

The five-member Adams County commission in a public meeting on Tuesday unanimously voted for a revised setback distance of 1000 feet between homes, schools, childcare facilities, hospitals and new oil and gas wells.

Senate Bill 181, which was opposed by the oil and gas industry, granted local governments control over regulating the siting of oil and gas development locations in an effort to minimise impacts on the health, safety and welfare of the public and the environment.

Colorado only requires a 500-foot setback from homes, although the 1000-foot setback from schools was already in place.

Adams County in March agreed to a moratorium on new oil and gas drilling applications that is set to expire this month.

Last November, Colorado residents voted against a state measure that would have increased setbacks up to 2500 feet between all new oil and gas development wells and homes and schools.

The measure, Proposition 112, was defeated with 57% of voters opposing the initiative.

Permitting activity has come under more scrutiny as state residents push back on oil and gas development.

Neighbouring Boulder County has also adopted a moratorium until March 2020 to give staff more time to develop fresh guidelines that adhere to Senate Bill 181.

Producers in Colorado mainly target the Denver-Julesburg basin in the north-east part of the state, along with the prolific Niobrara formation.

Other oil and gas basins include the Uinta and Piceance, as well as the Greater Green River, among others.

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