State Regulations: Colorado
The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC), a division of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), regulates oil and gas activities in Colorado. The COGCC has broad statutory authority with respect to impacts on any air, water, soil, or biological resources resulting from oil and gas operations. The COGCC implements the state ground water standards and classifications as they relate to oil and gas exploration and production (E&P) activities. The COGCC has jurisdiction for all Class II injection wells except those on Indian lands. The COGCC has jurisdiction for the management of all E&P wastes except at commercial disposal facilities. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) administers the environmental protection laws related to air quality, waste discharge to surface water, and commercial disposal facilities.
Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission
1120 Lincoln Street, Suite 801
Denver, CO 80203
(303) 894-2100 (phone)
(303) 894-2109 (fax)
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment
Hazardous Materials and Waste Management Division
(303) 692-3320 (phone)
Disposal Practices and Applicable Regulations
The regulations of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) can be accessed online by selecting “Final Amended Rules” on the COGCC home page (under Public Announcements) and again in the next window. (The amended rules are contained in a pdf-file dated Dec. 17, 2008.)
The rules governing exploration and production waste management are contained in the 900 series. The definition of E&P waste under the Oil and Gas Conservation Act basically follows the federal exemption from the definition of hazardous waste for oil and gas exploration and production waste. Otherwise, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) has promulgated regulations on water quality and supply, solid waste, and hazardous waste.
- Management Options for Drilling Fluids (Rule 907d.).
- Recycling and reuse. Drilling pit contents may be recycled to another drilling pit (Rule 903).
- Treatment and Disposal. Drilling fluids may be treated or disposed of through: injection into a permitted Class II well (Rule 325); disposal at a commercial solid waste disposal facility; or land treatment or land application at a permitted centralized exploration and production waste management facility (Rule 908).
- Additional Authorized Disposal of Water-Based Bentonitic Drilling Fluids.
- Drying and burial in drilling pits on non-crop land. The resulting concentrations shall not exceed those in Table 910-1.
- Land application. Acceptable methods. Examples include, but are not limited to, production facility construction and maintenance, and lease road maintenance. Land application requirements. The average thickness of water-based bentonitic drilling fluid waste applied shall be no more than three inches prior to incorporation; the waste shall be applied to prevent ponding or erosion and shall be incorporated as a beneficial amendment into the native soils within ten days of application; and the resulting concentrations shall not exceed those in Table 910-1. Surface owner approval. Operators shall obtain written authorization from the surface owner prior to land application of water-based bentonitic drilling fluids. Operator obligations. Operators shall maintain in appropriate format and have available for review (within five days of the Director’s written request) record of the source, the volume, and the location where the land application of the water-based bentonitic drilling fluid occurred. Operators with control and authority over the wells from which the water-based bentonitic drilling fluid wastes are obtained retain responsibility for the land application operation, and shall diligently cooperate with the Director in responding to complaints regarding land application of water-based bentonitic drilling fluids. Approval. Prior Director approval is not required for reuse of water-based bentonitic drilling fluids for land application as a soil amendment.
- Management Options for Oily Wastes (Rule 907e.).
- Oily waste includes those materials containing crude oil, condensate, or other hydrocarbon-containing exploration and production waste, such as soil, frac sand, drilling fluids, workover fluids, pit sludge, tank bottoms, pipeline pigging wastes, and natural gas gathering, processing, and storage waste.
- Oily waste may be treated or disposed of through: disposal at a commercial solid waste disposal facility; land treatment onsite; or land treatment at a permitted centralized E&P waste management facility (Rule 908).
- Land treatment requirements: free oil shall be removed from the oily waste prior to land treatment; oily waste shall be spread evenly to prevent pooling, ponding, or runoff; contamination of stormwater runoff, ground water, or surface water shall be prevented; biodegradation shall be enhanced by disking, tilling, aerating, or addition of nutrients, microbes, water or other amendments, as appropriate; land-treated oily waste incorporated in place or beneficially reused shall not exceed the concentrations in Table 910-1; when a threatened or significant adverse environmental impact from onsite land treatment exists, operators shall submit a Site Investigation and Remediation Workplan (Form 27) for approval by the Director. Treatment shall thereafter be completed in accordance with the workplan and the COGCC’s rules governing site investigation, remediation, and closure (Rule 909) and concentrations and sampling for soil and ground water (Rule 910); and when land treatment occurs in an area not being utilized for oil and gas operations, operators shall obtain prior written surface owner approval.