Head of state oil, gas commission resigns amid big changes | PostIndependent.com

Head of state oil, gas commission resigns amid big changes

GEORGE MERRITTAssociated Press WriterGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

DENVER – The director of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission announced his resignation Thursday amid a major overhaul of the panel meant to correct what critics said was a pro-industry bent.Brian Macke’s last day will be Oct. 31. He said he plans to work in the private sector but did not say what his new job would be.The commission regulates Colorado’s booming oil and gas industry. Stepped-up drilling has resulted in frequent battles pitting energy companies and their supporters against environmental groups and the owners of land where wells are drilled.Responding to complaints that regulators were too cozy with the industry, the Legislature passed a bill this year expanding the commission and changing its makeup to give environmentalists, health experts, agriculture officials and local governments a greater voice.The bill also directed the commission to cooperate with state health and wildlife officials to minimize adverse impacts of energy development.Macke did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment, and it was not clear whether or how the overhaul affected his decision to step down.In a written statement, he said: “I’ve enjoyed the challenges of the position, including working with the new commissioners. I’ve worked hard to provide them with the best possible information for making the difficult decisions ahead.”Macke joined the commission staff in 1990 as a field engineer in Grand Junction. He became deputy director in 1993 and director in 2004.Meg Collins, president of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, an industry group, called Macke’s departure a loss for the industry and for the commission.”Brian’s experience and stature are going to be difficult to replace,” she said.Macke has a strong and deep background in the industry and developed a very skilled staff, she said.Collins said this year’s shake-up at the commission will make it difficult to find a replacement.”I think the industry will keep working as it has been working with the new commissioners,” Collins said. “We want to be a resource to the commission.”Associated Press Writer Judith Kohler contributed to this report.

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