House approves plan to diversify oil and gas commission |

House approves plan to diversify oil and gas commission

DENVER (AP) ” The Colorado House approved a bill Friday to restructure the panel that regulates oil and gas drilling to address concerns it is too cozy with the industry.

The measure (House Bill 1341) would increase the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to nine members from seven by adding the directors of the Natural Resources and Public Health departments. It would also decrease the number of members who must have backgrounds in the industry to three, from five.

The bill now goes to the Senate.

Rep. Kathleen Curry, D-Gunnison, the bill’s sponsor, said the commission focuses too much on promoting the industry at the expense of property owners who are must deal with waste and other problems caused by Colorado’s energy boom.

Curry said out of 1,500 complaints filed over the past five years, only 11 resulted in fines against oil and gas drillers.

Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Yuma, said the bill will drive up costs for consumers and change 100 years of property rights for mineral owners in Colorado.

The bill would also require that two members of the commission come from the Western Slope, three members with a degree in petroleum geology or engineering, one government official, one environmentalist or wildlife expert, one with experience in soil conservation and one agricultural royalty owner.

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