COGCC makes progress on paper, enforcement is key to success
Background: Yesterday, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) adopted a new regulatory framework for financial assurances of oil and gas operations. The move could provide greater protection to taxpayers by requiring operators pay more in bonding and plan for the retirement of operations as they become less productive. Operators could be held more responsible for the actual cost of plugging an abandoned well or for “orphaning” a polluting well to the state. However, the regulations may be difficult to enforce since the COGCC chose a complex multi-tiered system with potential loopholes over simply requiring oil and gas companies to fully cover the cost of cleanup for every individual well, which was the recommendation of community and environmental advocates.
Statement by Earthworks Colorado Field Advocate Andrew Klooster:
“The COGCC has made progress on paper to put Coloradans’ interests ahead of chronically polluting oil and gas companies, but actual enforcement is essential. Regulators right now must overcome a record of lax enforcement and insufficient implementation because Colorado communities being polluted are still left responsible for cleaning up that pollution.
“This process is far from over because a fracked horizontal well has never been plugged in Colorado. We do not know what plugging these miles-long wells actually cost.
“Because the effectiveness of today’s action cannot be known for years, the COGGCC must scrupulously collect and transparently share data in the coming years so Coloradans may know the real legacy price of the fracking industry for generations to come”
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