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Jan 10, 2013 - The Associated Press

Colorado eyes new drilling regs

DENVER -- In a decision begin watched closely Wyoming and surrounding states, Colorado regulators gave initial approval Wednesday to rules meant to limit the effects of oil and gas drilling on homes, including a rule increasing the distance that rigs must be from occupied buildings.

The rules approved by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission are expected to take effect this summer.

One requires wells to be 500 feet from buildings, up from a 350-foot buffer proposed by the commission earlier. Environmentalists wanted even bigger buffers, while farmers and homebuilders were among those saying the larger distances could limit development or hurt loan values on their land.

Also Wednesday, state health and natural resource officials announced the launch this summer of a study of how oil and gas emissions behave and their characteristics in areas along the northern Front Range, which has become a hotbed for drilling. A second phase would study possible health effects.

Environmentalists said the state-sponsored studies are too little, too late, and amount to using people as "lab rats" to determine if they may be suffering health problems because of drilling.

The actions came on the last day of a three-day hearing to consider updating the state's oil and gas rules.

Earlier this week, the oil and gas commission approved rules requiring groundwater sampling both before and after drilling to ensure drinking water supplies haven't been contaminated.

Laramie gives up on fireworks

LARAMIE -- Laramie has given up on rescheduling last year's Fourth of July fireworks.

The display was postponed in July because of extreme fire danger and dry conditions. A wildfire had started days before near Lake Owen.

The city had planned to hold the fireworks display later in the year, perhaps around Christmas or New Year's. But t that didn't happen because dry conditions persisted into December. Then, after snow began to fall, officials were concerned about whether firework technicians would be able to travel to Wyoming.

Assistant City Manager Dave Derragon said most of the $16,000 set aside for the display will be used for this year's Fourth of July fireworks -- unless high fire danger cancels that display too.

Judge might extend roundup ban

RENO, Nev. -- A federal judge in Nevada is trying to decide whether to extend a temporary restraining order blocking the U.S. government from rounding up dozens of wild mustangs near the Idaho line in the midst of allegations of mistreatment of the animals.

U.S. District Judge Miranda Du scheduled a hearing in Las Vegas Thursday to consider the Bureau of Land Management's request to lift the emergency order she granted late last week after horse protection advocates presented video footage that suggests BLM wranglers were shocking horses with electric prods.

The agency maintains the cattle prods were used as a last resort and that their use was "within pre-established guidelines" of the Nov. 30 roundup near Owyhee north of Elko.

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