GarCo opposed to oil and gas local control measures | PostIndependent.com

GarCo opposed to oil and gas local control measures

Garfield County commissioners will join with Club 20 in asking Gov. John Hickenlooper not to call a special session of the state Legislature this summer aimed at crafting an oil and gas local control bill.

Recently, Club 20, the Grand Junction-based coalition of Western Slope businesses, municipalities and counties, sent a letter to Hickenlooper opposing any legislative attempts to head off a range of ballot initiatives that are being proposed to give local jurisdictions more power to regulate the energy industry.

"While our members appreciate the efforts under way to avert ballot measures under consideration, they are equally concerned that legislation drafted in a less than fully vetted transparent forum could result in policies that have unintended consequences," the organization stated in a May 23 letter to the governor.

Those consequences could be worse than ones contained in some of the proposed ballot measures, the letter states.

Commissioners from Garfield County, which is a member of Club 20, said during a special meeting Tuesday that they agree with Club 20's position and will send their own letter to the governor.

Regulation of the energy industry is best kept at the state level under the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, and attempts to undermine that would "undo 12 years of rulemaking in the state," said Kirby Wynn, the county's oil and gas liaison.

The commissioners asked Wynn to prepare a resolution supporting the Club 20 position to be considered at the regular June 2 Board of County Commissioners meeting.

Club 20 continued in its letter, "An attempt to address an issue this complex in a special session could easily turn into an unmanageable feat. Given the condensed time frame for drafting legislation and conducting a special session, it is highly unlikely that an adequate public policy discussion can take place."

Several proposed ballot initiatives are circulating, including some endorsed by U.S. Rep. Jared Polis of Boulder, to allow local jurisdictions to establish their own, more stringent well setback rules beyond those recently adopted by the state.

Other proposals would give greater control over not just the oil and gas industry, but other types of businesses that can have local impacts.