Proposition 112 would set back oil and gas development to 2,500 feet

DENVER -- Colorado has a huge decision to make in November when it comes to oil and gas.

Most oil and gas development in the state must be at least 500 feet away from homes and 1,000 feet away from schools and businesses.

Proposition 112 wants that setback to be 2,500 feet for all of those places, plus a few more protected areas.

Hundreds of millions of years ago, Colorado was an ocean filled with plants and animals.

Eventually, they died and were covered with sand, silt and rock.

With time, all of that pressure basically cooked the plants and animals into oil and gas.

"The oil is a little bit less mature. The natural gas has essentially been cooked more," said Will Fleckenstein from the Colorado School of Mines.

The state's oil and gas wells are located in four main areas: The Denver basin, which includes Weld County; the Piceance Basin on the Western Slope; and the San Juan and Raton basins in the southern part of the state.

Colorado produces about 450,000 barrels of oil every day. Fleckenstein said he thinks the state could eventually produce up to 1 million barrels per day.

The initial drilling goes down about 6,000 to 7,000 feet into the Earth.

"After that, you’re just drilling laterally," Fleckenstein said. "And now you’re drilling wells laterally as far as 10,000 feet. Then you move the rig off and start the hydraulic fracturing process."

Fleckenstein said the well can the be active for as long as 20 to 30 years, with the first few years being the most productive.