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Recent Colorado explosions prompt renewed debate about proximity of oil and gas operations to homes

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Two recent explosions in Colorado have prompted renewed debate about the proximity of oil and gas operations to homes.

As Colorado Public Radio reports, just over a month after a home in Firestone, Colorado exploded, killing two men and severely injuring one woman, another explosion in nearby Mead killed one man and injured three others.

The two blasts, while unrelated, involved oil and gas sites owned by Anadarko Petroleum and have renewed debate over so-called reverse setbacks – the buffer between existing oil and gas operations and new home development.

Some say state regulators have the authority to create restrictions on setbacks but Matt Lapore, executive director of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, is convinced that the state does not have that authority.

He said it wasn’t the home’s proximity to the well that was the problem in Firestone but its proximity to an improperly abandoned cut flowline, meaning that a more restrictive setback from a well wouldn’t have necessarily prevented that explosion.