October 13, 2020

COGCC wildlife series rulemaking delayed to November 10

 

The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission voted unanimously on October 13 to delay the wildlife series rulemaking hearings that were scheduled to begin on the 13th.  The hearing now are scheduled to begin on November 10, resume on the 12th-14th and extend in to the following week.  The reason for the delay was that COGCC issued revisions to the draft wildlife rules on Friday, October 9, which was insufficient to meet the requirement of the Administrative Procedures Act that mandates issuance at least  5 days in advance of the hearing.advance

COGCC tentatively approved revisions to Rules series 200-600 on September 28, 2020.  Written public comment on the wildlife series has been reopened may be made until October 8 November 4 at  5pm. click here to comment on wildlife series.

SB181 which mandated the rulemaking “ensures that oil and gas development and operations in Colorado are regulated in a manner that protects public health, safety, welfare, the environment and wildlife resources.”

CWF’s positions on wildlife 1200 series:

CWF agrees with the COGCC draft rules (and now the revised draft rules)  in large part.  As to protections for High Priority Habitats of bighorn sheep, mule deer, elk and pronghorn, however, we believe the draft protections need to strengthened based upon the current science that has evolved.  We urge:

— surface disturbance from oil and gas development in bighorn sheep migration corridors, production areas, severe winter range and winter concentration areas not exceed 3 % of a section (square mile). The revised draft changed from the draft rule for bighorn sheep production areas.  It now provides no ground disturbance in sheep production areas.

— surface disturbance from oil and gas development in mule deer and elk  migration corridors, production areas, severe winter range and winter concentration areas not exceed 3% of a section (square mile).

–surface disturbance from oil and gas development in pronghorn migration areas, severe winter range and winter concentration areas not exceed 3% of a section (square mile).

As to aquatic areas:

–Wetlands and streams should be designated as High Priority Habitats and buffered by 500 feet. The revised draft issued on October 9 has changed from the draft. The draft provided a 300 feet buffer and the revised draft specifies a 500 feet buffer.  Great news!

–Gold Medal waters designated by Colorado Parks and Wildlife and native cutthroat trout streams should be protected by a buffer of 1,320 feet (1/4 mile).   The revised draft provides a 500 feet buffer.

 

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