Decision on oil, gas rules pushed back |

Decision on oil, gas rules pushed back

Phillip Yates
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

DENVER ” The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission will continue its hearings about new rules for the state’s oil and gas industry into September.

For the last few months, many observers had expected the COGCC commissioners to discuss and deliberate the future of the new rules from Aug. 12 to Aug. 15.

Now the commission is expected to hold two days of hearings on Aug. 19 and 20, with three more days of hearings expected to be scheduled from Sept. 9 to Sept. 11, said Mike King, deputy director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources.

It is expected that the COGCC commissioners will approve the majority rules by Sept. 11, King said.

The decision to continue the hearings into September was made to give agency staff members more time to finish their final recommendations for the new rules, to winnow down disagreements and “remove ambiguities” from the proposed rules, King said.

Staff will release its initial batch of final recommendations this Monday.

When the commissioners start deliberating about whether to approve the new rules, they can decide to approve the complete set of rules proposed by COGCC staff or decide to delay consideration of others, King said.

The COGCC is drafting new rules for the state’s oil and gas industry because of House Bills 1298 and 1341, which require the COGCC to expand its focus to consider public health and wildlife impacts, and require the use of best management practices to minimize harm from oil and gas development. The state legislature passed those bills last year.

Meg Collins, president of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, said about 35 oil and gas companies submitted a post-hearing statement in late July that outlined their alternative proposals to the current draft rules and included answers to COGCC commissioner’s questions during the rule-making process.

The oil and gas statement ” several other interested groups also filed statements ” was submitted after COGCC commissioners held several hearings about the proposed rules.

“I think that the state needs to honor the work and effort that the industry put forward in this (statement),” Collins said. “We look forward to continuing discussions with the state.”

The state’s rule-making process has been engulfed in controversy from the very beginning, with the oil and gas industry criticizing the proposed rules and its trade groups running hundreds of newspaper and radio ads saying they could cause serious economic consequences to the state.

However, environmentalists an other groups say recent reports of spills and contamination call out for more stringent rules for the industry.

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