Oil and Gas Drilling Colorado

In this Aug. 16, 2018, file photo, a pump jack works in a recently constructed residential development in Frederick. 

The Boulder County Board of Commissioners unanimously voted Thursday to pass strengthened rules and regulations for oil and gas development, including increasing setbacks for fracking sites.

From now on, oil and gas well pads in the county will generally have to be at least 2,500 feet away from any home, school, child care, workplace or county/city-owned public trail.

Boulder County Commissioner Elise Jones said the updated regulations will be “the strongest in the state.”

The setbacks may be increased or decreased depending on specific circumstances but can never be smaller than 2,000 feet.

The new regulations also require renewable energy use by the oil and gas industry, financial assurances for the cost and risk of oil and gas operations and stricter noise, odor and air quality monitoring.

“We appreciate that the Boulder County Commissioners have listened to the hundreds of people who’ve testified and the 70% of local residents in favor of 2,500-foot setbacks,” said Micah Parkin with 350 Colorado.

Parkin said Boulder County received an F air quality grade from the American Lung Association and that up to 40% of the region’s poor air quality can be attributed to the oil and gas industry.

Last year, 350 Colorado led a coalition that delivered a petition calling for a fracking ban in Boulder County, signed by groups and businesses representing over 130,000 residents.

“The reality is that we are facing a climate crisis and a public health crisis and that any additional fracking pollution will exacerbate these serious issues,” Parkin said.

“350 Boulder County members and allies will continue to demand that fracking is ultimately banned.”