Oil and gas companies have yet to fully restore land around half of the 47,505 inactive wells in Colorado, and 72 percent of those un-restored sites have been in the process for more than five years, The Denver Post has found.The state requires oil and gas companies to restore all sites completely — to reduce erosion, loosen compacted soil, prevent dust storms and control invasions of noxious weeds.But Colorado does not set a timetable for getting the job done. Nor do state regulators track how long companies take to complete required work.And unlike other states, Colorado does not require companies to submit reclamation plans before drilling.The result is a worsening problem of damage from the oil and gas boom. On Friday, Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission chairman Thomas Compton said he would like to consider improving state rules.The lags in land restoration reflected in state data “are probably not acceptable,” Compton said. “It may mean we need to step up our game.”In particular, he favored requiring companies to submit reclamation plans in advance. Surface landowners would have to have opportunities to shape those plans, he said. Such plans would help spur proper reclamation done according to a timetable — “as long as the timetable is reasonable and allows for some sort of disruption short-term and long-term as far as what the weather patterns are.”

MAP: Colorado’s inactive wells
On Monday, the COGCC plans to review a Colorado Prairie Initiative from a group of law students proposing tougher rules for restoring damaged land.The imprint of the oil boom statewide “is a very large area,” said Colorado State University ecology professor Mark Paschke, the associate dean for natural resources research. “We need to do a better job of getting our heads wrapped around how we need to reclaim these sites.””(Restoring land) is not rocket science. But, in a lot of cases, we could do a better job than what we do now,” Paschke said.Fully re-establishing the cropland in heavily drilled areas such as Weld County “should go a lot faster, one or two years. You’re just … – Click Here To Visit Article Source