What are Setbacks?

May 1, 2018

What are Setbacks?

“Setback” is a common term here in Colorado, especially this year, but not many people know exactly what setbacks are or why they are important to responsible oil and natural gas development. In short, setbacks are the required distance between energy development and homes, schools, and other buildings and are a big part of why Colorado already has some of the toughest energy regulations in the nation.


What are Colorado’s Current Regulations?

For almost a decade, Colorado state officials, environmental groups, community leaders and the energy industry worked together to achieve Colorado’s existing regulatory balance and improve our state’s oil and natural gas regulations so that they are some of the strictest regulations in the nation.

Our state’s strong energy regulations require companies to work with local governments when planning oil and natural gas development and in the last nine years, the state has had fourteen rulemakings to ensure the safety of the public and the environment.

  • Current setback distances at 500 and 1,000 feet keep the environment and communities surrounding oil and natural gas development sites safe, while fostering economic prosperity in Colorado.
  • Colorado was the first state to require water sampling before and after drilling to ensure our water remains safe (Source: COGCC approves sweeping new setback rules, COGCC press releases1/9/13)
  • In the last few years, 26 studies – including one from Colorado State University – have found that fracking doesn’t contaminate groundwater (Source: All studies listed here)
  • Colorado was the first state in the nation to pass methane regulations requiring the capture of air pollutants released during oil and natural gas operations (Source: Colorado Becomes First State To Restrict Methane Emissions, NPR, 2/25/2014)
  • Colorado’s regulations are more protective than federal methane rules issued by the EPA. Cutting-edge technology and strict regulations have cut leakage rates by 75% in Colorado, according to Climate Wire (Source: Colorado’s Successful Methane Emissions Program is a Gas to Congress, Newsweek, 2/8/17.)
  • Colorado rules require that 95% of pollutants from oil and natural gas operations are captured, which decreases methane emissions by over 60,000 tons (Source: Colorado First State to Limit Methane Pollution from Oil and Gas Wells, E&E News, 2/25/14)


What’s at Stake?

This November, reckless out-of-state groups are working to pass Proposition 112—a measure so extreme that it disrupts our state’s regulatory balance and increases setbacks to five times the distance of what is currently required, which effectively bans oil and natural gas development in Colorado, costing tens of thousands of jobs, hundreds of millions in tax revenue, and devastating large segments of our economy for years to come.

Bottom line, Colorado’s future is at stake.


What Happens if Proposition 112 Succeeds?

If Proposition 112 succeeds, communities across Colorado will lose.

Colorado is one of the largest natural gas producers in the U.S. In addition to supporting hundreds of thousands of good jobs across Colorado, our vibrant oil and natural gas industry contributed $839 million to K-12 schools in 2015 and 2016, and over the past eight years, the industry sent $615 million in severance tax to municipalities and counties for everything from new parks and recreational centers to funding public safety of local police and fire departments and road improvements. The Colorado State Land Board calculates that Proposition 112 will eliminate $230.3 million of funding for Colorado’s schools from state trust lands over a three-year period.

According to a study released by the Common Sense Policy Roundtable (CSPR) and the REMI partnership, Proposition 112 would eliminate over $26 billion annually in state GDP, more than $1 billion in tax revenue, and as many as 147,800 jobs by 2030. In fact, 77% of all jobs lost would be outside of the oil and natural gas industry including health care, retail, construction, real estate, hotel and food services.

This latest study also reinforces a recent analysis conducted by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) showing that Proposition 112 would put 85% of the state off limits to new oil and natural gas development. Here’s what that impact could look like…

If the setbacks measure wins, Colorado loses. Proposition 112 would eliminate over 200,000 jobs and make 85% of Colorado off limits to new natural gas and oil development.


Based on recent studies, it is clear the setback distance of 2,500 feet was chosen to eliminate oil and natural gas development altogether, not to make operations safer.


Take Action

All independent third party analyses prove this measure is a job killer and cuts revenues to critical public services like our schools. Tens of thousands of good jobs will be lost. Families will be hurt for no good reason.

Don’t be fooled: Proposition 112’s reckless energy setbacks would mean a ban on new oil and natural gas production in Colorado.

Before you cast your vote this November, share the facts on how energy setbacks would impact Colorado and hurt our communities with your family and friends.

Click here to take action.