DENVER - A Denver judge has upheld new state rules requiring gas and oil waste disposal pits to have synthetic
The Legislature in 2008 called for the new rules, which the Solid and Hazardous Waste Commission passed in November
2008. The rule is separate from the acrimonious rulemaking at the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission that
happened at the same time.
Gas and oil companies use the pits to get rid of their production waste, including hydraulic fracturing fluids. Some
pits on the Western Slope are lined with clay, which the owners say does a good job of keeping waste chemicals out of
But the new rules required synthetic fabric liners. Fourmile Recycling Facility Inc. of Moffat County in northwest
Colorado and another company sued to overturn the rules.
In an opinion issued late Tuesday, Denver District Judge William Hood III took the state's side.
The decision will have limited effect in Southwest Colorado because there are no unlined pits here, according to the
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
Fourmile argued that the solid-waste commission exceeded its authority and adopted unreasonable rules unsupported by
facts. Hood disagreed.
Indeed, the governmental purpose of protecting the health and safety of the public by safeguarding Colorado's
groundwater is undoubtedly a legitimate purpose," Hood wrote.
Fourmile lawyer Shayne Madsen said her clients are strongly leaning toward appeal."
We think that the court decision was not well-placed and didn't follow the applicable legal standard," Madsen
The Colorado Oil and Gas Association, the state's major industry group, did not get involved in the case and had no
The commission's secretary, Melanie Granberg, was happy about Tuesday's ruling.
The rules already have begun to protect Colorado's health and environment, so we are very pleased with the court's
decision," Granberg said.