350 CO Executive Director Micah Parkin delivers feedback during a COGCC meeting 

In March 2022, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) finally responded to public pressure, securing the decision to uphold a 2000 foot setback between oil and gas development and homes and schools. For the first time, the COGCC finally denied their first permit, denying the Kerr McGee oil and gas well plan proposed near homes in Firestone, Colorado. 

While this is good news, a great deal of public pressure was required in order to secure this decision – and Coloradans will need to continue to remind oil and gas commissioners of their duty by law to protect and prioritize public health and safety. There will be many more proposed permits by the oil and gas industry in the months to come, and we invite you to join us in our continued calls for strong protections going forward. 

This article is meant to serve as a resource for those who would like to take action against neighborhood oil and gas development, especially hydraulic fracturing (fracking). Below you will find all you need to know on how to use your voice to comment on the oil and gas permitting process. Thank you for taking action to ensure our communities and environment are protected for generations to come. 

First Some Background: What is the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC)?

COGCC stands for Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission. The COGCC has a dual purpose, to regulate the oil and gas industry and, since 2019 when SB19-181 was signed into law, to protect public health, safety, welfare, and the environment of Colorado from adverse impacts related to oil and gas natural resources. See their official mission here. SB19-181 represented what was supposed to be a major shift in the mission and culture of the COGCC. But, while many rules have changed, effects on the ground have tended to stay the same.

One of the roles of the COGCC is to approve or deny oil and gas operators’ permits for fracking in the state of Colorado. Each new siting permit that is submitted has a period of time where the public can comment before it is approved. When a member of the public gives a public comment, it helps the COGCC decide whether they should approve or deny a permit. Unfortunately, new wells on already approved sites do not have the opportunity for public comment.

Why Should You Make Your Voice Heard at the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC)?

Since SB19-181 was signed into law almost three years ago there have been many changes to the procedures at the COGCC but not a lot of change in the actual experiences of Coloradans who live on the front lines of oil and gas drilling. This has created a lot of frustration among residents. 

Recently, this report was written by Mike Foote for the Sierra Club. Foote was a state senator who helped draft and sponsor SB19-181. His report details the failings of the COGCC thus far. 

For example, the COGCC has only denied one permit and has approved many others, even though many of the oil and gas wells that have been proposed have been next to residential building units, in disproportionately impacted communities, or near endangered wildlife. These are direct examples of how the COGCC is not operating in line with its mission, and ultimately SB19-181 as law.

Here’s How To Take Action: How to submit a written comment or give public comment during a general weekly COGCC meeting. 

The public comment process can be complicated, but we hope this article makes this process easier to understand so your voice can be heard! 

There are two ways you can comment on the permits that are being reviewed: 

    • You can write and submit a comment online. Click here for everything you need to know to submit a comment online. 
    • You can attend one of the COGCC’s meetings (virtually) to make the comment in real-time.  Click here for everything you need to know to submit a comment in real-time at an upcoming meeting. 

What to include in your comment: 

When making your comment, speak about your own personal concerns. Focus on encouraging the oil and gas commission to adopt and uphold stronger safeguards for Colorado’s health, environment, and safety. 

Colorado is still not requiring continuous monitoring of emissions at oil and gas sites (despite being called for in SB 19-181), so most communities are unaware of the levels of toxic emissions to which their families are being exposed. They live in fear of cancers and other serious illnesses that may develop due to these exposures.

You can also draw from talking points here when drafting your comments. 

Coloradans Against Fracking at a COGCC meeting

Pro Tip: When making a public comment, it is important to try to create a “story of self” and connect why you are passionate about the topics related to oil and gas development such as cumulative impacts, closing abandoned wells, methane leaking from wells, impacts that drilling has on wildlife, disproportionally impacted communities, or the need to phase out oil and gas production in our state.

Want more information about the types of permits COGCC approves? Click here for more information about the many different types of permits in the realm of oil and gas, ranging from new drilling sites with lots of wells to adding wells to already existing sites. You can also learn more in this COGCC Public Comment Toolkit that outlines how to best give feedback based on permit type.