Jan 16, 2013 1:04 AM by Andy Koen
COLORADO SPRINGS - Energy companies may soon be drilling for oil and natural gas near Colorado Springs neighborhoods. City Council held a work session Tuesday hear from members of the state oil and gas commission about new environmental restrictions on drilling.
Oil companies have expressed interest in drilling wells in neighborhoods within the city limits including areas near Banning Lewis Ranch and Flying Horse Ranch.
Matt Lepore, Director of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC), says state law views land rights and mineral rights very differently.
"Under state law, what the city cannot do legally without compensation is prevent the mineral owner from accessing the minerals," Lepore said.
Meanwhile, protestors outside of City Hall urged the council to block any drilling that uses the hydraulic fracturing, nicknamed *fracking* because of concerns about air and water pollution.
Karyna Lemus of the group Colorado Springs Citizens for Community Rights worries the council is blinded by the prospect of new jobs associated with oil exploration and not concerned enough about the environmental risks.
"There are a lot of issue and we don't really think it's going to have a positive impact on the economy," she said. "It's going to affect tourism and agriculture, the jobs are only going to be temporary."
The COGCC established new rules and requirements for oil and gas exploration last week. They include an expanded 1,000 foot buffer zone for wells located near homes, schools and businesses.
Drilling companies are also required to test ground water before, during and after drilling for chemicals and other pollutants.