Colorado energy regulators are trying to quell the public's fears after a house built near an oil and gas well exploded, killing two men. The explosion happened in the small community of Firestone, thirty miles north of Denver, where oil and gas wells are common. State officials are still investigating the explosion and don't know what caused it.
As part of our weekly Capitol Conversation series, Bente Birkeland talked to statehouse reporters Ed Sealover with the Denver Business Journal and Peter Marcus with ColoradoPolitics.com about the tragedy and what it could mean for future oil and gas legislation.
On why the issue is gaining so much attention:
Marcus: I think what it highlights is just the fear that's out there, and the anxiety that's out there, and that this is a controversial conversation.
On what it could mean for future oil and gas legislation and rules:
Sealover: We continue, down here at the Capitol, to talk about how far oil and gas wells must be moved back from property lines. I wonder if, at this point, somebody is going to propose a bill, or at least local authorities propose a law, saying maybe new houses have to be moved back a certain distance from previous or existing oil and gas wells also.
On what state energy regulators have said about the investigation so far:
Marcus: We are in speculation mode. They declined to comment on whether there is actual evidence linking the oil and gas industry to this devastating explosion, but at the same time, there's been a series of events that have taken place since. You have Anadarko, the producer, out there shutting down 3,000 of these vertical wells across the state.
Capitol Coverage is a collaborative public policy reporting project, providing news and analysis to communities across Colorado for more than a decade. Fifteen public radio stations participate in Capitol Coverage from throughout Colorado.