The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission implemented some of the most stringent regulations in connection with the oil and natural gas operations in the state. The new groundwater protection rules require energy companies near water wells to ensure that their drilling operations will not affect the water supplies by conducting before-and-after samples of groundwater wells to determine any problem or impact on the quality of the water.
Matt Lepore, director of Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, said the new ground water protection regulations put the state in the forefront of thoughtful and progressive regulatory oversight of energy development. There are only two other states with mandatory groundwater programs; however, Colorado is the only state requiring energy companies to conduct post-drilling water samples.
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In a statement, Lepore said, “We worked earnestly with many stakeholders to develop a groundwater rule that provides strong protections and that we believe strikes the right balance among many interested parties.”
The commission worked with the stakeholders including well owners and energy companies and initiated a voluntary sampling program for a year before enacting the new regulations, which would help regulators in identifying the potential impact of oil and gas drilling activities to the drinking water or groundwater in the country.
Andy Spielman, Commissioner of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation, said “This rule represents a strong, proactive step to monitor and protect our groundwater and is right for Colorado. We have once again set the bar high in our assertive and judicious regulatory approach to oil and gas development.”
Colorado is one the states in the U.S. with the largest production of oil and natural gas. The Green River formation holds approximately 2 trillion barrels of oil, and is located within the state. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the Green River formation is the world’s biggest oil shale deposit. Colorado is the fifth state in the country in terms of natural gas production.
The U.S. government is currently conducting a study regarding the possible contamination of water supplies from fracking operations in Wyoming. Last week, regulators extended a comment period on a report on hydraulic fracturing operations in the state.
According to Encana Corporation (NYSE:ECA), the government’s inquiry is a waste of time. Advocates for oil and natural gas operations assert that there were no evidences proving that fracking contaminates drinking water. On the other hand, environmental organizations argue that fracking could pollute groundwater with chemicals like benzene and glycols.