Garfield County wants to join the oil and gas party
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” Garfield County intends to be an active participant when the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission holds hearings over rules the agency is drafting for the state’s oil and gas industry.
Garfield County commissioners today are expected to consider whether they want to seek “party” status for the county for those formal hearings.
County Attorney Don DeFord said if Garfield County were “a party” to the rule-making hearings, county officials should be able to present evidence and put witnesses forward. It also should give the county the ability to cross-examine other witnesses and to appeal.
Commissioners have to let the COGCC know about their intent to seek party status for the hearings by April 18, according to the COGCC’s rule-making timeline.
“[Being a party] generally gives us a little more standing to participate in the proceedings rather than just commenting like a citizen,” DeFord said.
A public comment hearing about the new rules will be held June 10 at the Two Rivers Convention Center, 159 Main St., in Grand Junction. The time will be posted on the COGCC website. Another public comment hearing meeting in Denver will be held during the week of June 23, according to the agency.
Commissioner John Martin and Commissioner Larry McCown both supported gaining party status during the county commissioners’ last meeting. Commissioner Tresi Houpt recused herself from a preliminary discussion about whether the county would seek party status because of her role as a COGCC commissioner.
The state is drafting new rules for the state’s oil and gas industry because of legislation passed by the state Legislature, which required that the COGCC 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 agency released a set of draft rules in late March, which immediately drew criticism from the energy industry in Colorado.
Some of the proposed rules include prohibiting drilling in critical wildlife areas, primarily in western Colorado, for specified periods of up to 90 days and prohibiting the construction of oil and gas facilities within 500 feet of “sources of drinking water” for a distance of five miles upstream of a “public water supply intake.”
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