Cattlemen’s Association slams COGCC-backed 2,000-foot setback rule

The Colorado Cattlemen’s Association attacked the state’s regulator of oil and gas operations Wednesday, saying a proposed 2,000 foot setback between new wells and human-occupied areas would severely impact their revenue. In a call with reporters, CCA executive vice president Terry Fankhauser said ranchers and farmers in Colorado have long depended on royalties from oil production on their land as an additional source of income for themselves and for farming upgrades. However, the setback proposals that were backed by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission this month threatens his members’ ability to enter into new agreements with drillers. Fankhauser also noted that his group was not granted standing to present in front of the COGCC, despite a long-standing intertwinement between the ranching and the energy industry. “We do not directly represent the oil and gas industry, but we are mainly concerned about our private property rights and the royalty interests as it relates to agriculture. And we feel now is the time for us to stand up and let our voices be heard,” he said. Susie Magnuson, a rancher and farmer near Erie, said the royalties her family received from four wells on their property were used to pay for her husband’s cancer treatments before he died in 2008. “To say that we were poor is an understatement,” she said. “But because of our ability to use the resources that we had, we were able to steward the land and also produce on the land and produce from under the land so that at the time of his passing, I didn’t owe anything on his medical bills.” Magnuson said her property is long, narrow and near human development, making it all but impossible to place another well there under a 2,000 foot setback scenario. She also expressed doubts that a variance would allow her to put a new well on her land that would make sense for her in terms of maximizing the farm’s output. The COGCC has directed its professional staff to draw up legal language for the setbacks but has yet to vote on enacting that policy or any other rules agreed upon during its ongoing revamp of state regulations under Senate Bill 181. When asked about the public health reasoning for increased setbacks, the ranchers said they often have their children and grandchildren living on their properties near wells and want to see “scientific proof” to justify stricter distancing. “I personally have no concerns living right next to a well producing, and I invite people to come out and take a look and do additional research,” said Joe Wigginton, a landowner and mineral rights holder in Mead. “I think a lot of people are driven by fear or lack of understanding.” A study commissioned by the Colorado Department of Health and Environment last year found that in a small number of cases, humans were being exposed to noxious chemicals released during oil and gas operations from as far as 2,000 feet away. When asked by reporters, […]
Source: BizWest

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