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Defending Strong Oil And Gas Safety Laws In Colorado

Flaring in gas wells in Rifle, CO.

Flaring in gas wells in Rifle, CO.

Photo courtesy of Ecoflight

What's at Stake

After strong safety laws for oil and gas drilling were issued in Colorado, industry fought hard to undo them. Earthjustice defended the important rules and continues working to ensure they are strengthened.

Case Overview

In 2008, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission overhauled the state permitting process for oil and gas development in Colorado. Under the new regulations, public health, environmental and wildlife concerns for the first time became a central part of the permitting process.

Earthjustice represented the conservation community in the hotly-contested administrative proceedings, which lasted more than eight months. We advocated for regulations that opened the permitting process to the public and protected communities and the environment. We also worked to counter an intense campaign by the oil and gas industry to weaken the proposed rules.

After the rules were adopted in December 2008, we successfully beat back industry efforts to overturn them in the Colorado state legislature and in court. Colorado’s precedent-setting rules raised the bar for state oil and gas regulation and have served as a model for numerous other states and federal regulators in the years that followed.

Case ID



Case Updates

February 12, 2014 | Blog Post

Colorado Tackles Rules Governing Oil, Gas

Colorado has emerged as a western ground zero in the fracking boom, with more than 50,000 active wells in the state and 3,000 wells permitted annually on average in recent years. The state is struggling to deal with this staggering growth as well as the changing nature of the industry as operations have moved into communities along the Front Range.

March 7, 2013 | In the News: The Denver post

Colorado rule change may relax air pollution reporting requirements

Colorado is considering making changes to its air pollution regulations that would include raising the allowable threshold from two to twenty-five tons of emissions per year, loosening requirements for pollution reporting.

"We need to get numbers as to what the impact of the permitting change would be," said Earthjustice attorney Mike Freeman. "If we're trying to get control of emissions from the oil and gas sector, we don't want to undercut that effort by removing a whole bunch of sources from air permitting requirements."

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