Colorado increases fines for oil and gas violations
DENVER — The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission on Monday increased the maximum fine that oil and gas companies could face for violating state rules to $15,000 from $1,000.
The fine is the highest allowed by a law the Legislature passed last year that increases the possible penalties, The Denver Post reported.
“If the Legislature said $15,000, it may not be appropriate to reduce that number,” Commissioner John Benton said.
The commission also eliminated an overall cap of $10,000 in fines for each violation but reduced the maximum daily fines for the least serious violations, such as late paperwork, to $200, from $500.
The Colorado Oil and Gas Association, an industry group, has said it supports the higher fines but expressed some concerns about how they would be applied. A spokesman for the group didn’t immediately return a call from the Associated Press on Monday.
Pete Maysmith, executive director of Conservation Colorado, welcomed the higher fines.
“It is important to hold the oil and gas industry accountable for significant violations, not only to act as a deterrent but to protect the health and safety of Coloradans and our environment,” he said in a written statement.
Some environmental groups had expressed concern that the director of the oil and gas commission could settle an alleged violation without imposing any penalties.
Commissioners limited the director’s discretion to waive all penalties in the most serious cases. They also tightened language to protect the right of the public to go to the commission if they disagree with the director’s ruling.
Commissioner DeAnn Craig said higher penalties could prompt small operators to abandon wells, making the state responsible for maintaining them.
Commission member Mike King, who is director of the state Department of Natural Resources, said well abandonment is a separate issue from the penalties.
“There is no history of fines causing operators to get up and walk away,” he said.
King said regulators plan to document more precisely what happens to wells as they reach the end of production.
Information from: The Denver Post, http://www.denverpost.com
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around Glenwood Springs and Garfield County make the Post Independent’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.
Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.
User Legend: Moderator Trusted User