Thursday, September 25, 2008

Colorado's Oil and Gas Commission issued regulations to prevent oil and gas drilling from harming sensitive wildlife habitat at the request of the governor and state legislature.

The rules adopted Tuesday call for drillers to check state maps to determine whether their operations are within sensitive wildlife habitat. If they are, they must consult with the Division of Wildlife on a plan to limit the adverse impact of drilling.

Among the steps an operator could take are consolidating facilities, limiting movement of drilling rigs, using appropriate fencing and conducting vegetative screening.

The rule also identifies "restricted surface occupancy areas" — primarily sage-grouse habitat — where operators should limit drilling to "the maximum extent technically and economically feasible."
This sounds like a step in the right direction, though closure of some sites during lekking season was taken off the table as a mitigation measure. How these will work in practice remains to be seen. It seems that much of the enforcement responsibility lies with the individual companies, which may not be eager to put much effort into protecting wildlife.