- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 3, 2015

DENVER (AP) - Proposals to increase the required distance between houses and oil and gas wells probably won’t be among the recommendations a state task force presents to Gov. John Hickenlooper after backers said Tuesday they didn’t have the votes.

Some task force members wanted to increase the minimum to as much as 1,000 feet from homes and 2,000 feet from schools. The requirement also would have applied to oilfield storage tanks.

The current requirement is 500 feet from homes and 1,000 feet from schools.

Supporters withdrew their proposals when it was clear they didn’t have the votes. Instead, they proposed requiring regulators to consider the proximity of schools and houses when they review drilling plans.

The full 21-member task force agreed to consider the revised proposal.

The panel hasn’t taken final votes on any recommendations, which are due to Hickenlooper on Feb. 27. They agreed Tuesday to further consider more than three dozen proposals on property owners’ rights, local government’s role in approving wells, health studies and other topics.

One proposal under consideration would give landowners more clout when energy companies want to drill on their land.

Former state Supreme Court Justice Rebecca Kourlis, a task force member, recommended giving landowners the right to suggest which site they preferred and requiring drilling companies to pay the full cost of damage if they choose another site.

Task force member Perry Pearce, a government affairs manager for ConocoPhillips, said that would significantly weaken energy companies’ rights. “Essentially, you’re allowing a surface owner to dictate a location, which he cannot do now,” Pearce said.

Another proposal under consideration would require drillers to fully disclose what chemicals they use in hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. Fracking pumps pressurized water, sand and chemicals into underground formations to release oil and gas.

Current Colorado law requires companies to identify the chemicals except for those considered trade secrets. One proposal before the task force would eliminate that exemption.

Hickenlooper formed the task force last year in a deal that kept four divisive oil and gas measures off the November ballot. Two measures would have banned fracking, and two of them would have accommodated the practice.

New York officials said in December they planned to ban fracking in a gas-rich formation beneath the state. Colorado’s task force isn’t considering a ban.

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Follow Dan Elliott at http://twitter.com/DanElliottAP

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