Governor’s oil and gas task force to meet in Rifle |

Governor’s oil and gas task force to meet in Rifle


Wednesday, Dec. 10

Where: Farm Fresh Cafe, Rifle

Meeting: 10 a.m.-7 p.m.

Public Comment: 5-7 p.m.

Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014

Where: Farm Fresh Cafe, Rifle

8 a.m. to Noon

RIFLE — If you have a question or a concern regarding oil and gas drilling in Garfield County, now is the time to speak up.

Public comments are being welcomed at the next governor’s Oil and Gas Task Force meeting scheduled for two days next week in Rifle.

Gov. John Hickenlooper named the task force in September in a compromise to head off ballot initiatives aimed at limiting drilling activity by establishing legal setback distances for drilling from homes and adding local control on drilling decisions.

The 19-member group is charged “with crafting recommendations to help minimize land use conflicts that can occur when siting oil and gas facilities near homes, schools, businesses and recreational areas,” Hickenlooper said at the time.

It headed off ballot measures, including two funded by U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, a Boulder Democrat, that critics said threatened to cripple the state’s energy industry.

The task force is supposed to make recommendations to the Legislature on issues including setback restrictions for wells, whether local governments can adopt stricter rules than the state’s, the potential for different regulations in rural and urban areas, how to reconcile the interests of landowners and those who own separated mineral rights, and how to handle noise, air quality, dust and traffic problems.

The group meets Dec. 10 and 11 at the Farm Fresh Cafe in Rifle.

“People should take this opportunity to share their views,” said Kirby Wynn, oil and gas liaison for Garfield County. “There are some very important discussions to be had and Garfield County will be sharing their input. It’s critical for citizens and local government to give their input so it can be integrated.”

Public comments will be included in the task force recommendations to the governor, which must be submitted by Feb. 27.

“We will bring the recommendations back to the governor and the people will be able to respond,” said Kathleen Staks, assistant director for energy of the state Department of Natural Resources. “People can come and fill out a card and submit their question.”

The cards will then be randomly drawn and answered at the meetings, Staks said.

Meetings of the task force so far have drawn crowds of at least 300 people.

Staks spoke Thursday at a meeting of the Northwest Colorado Oil & Gas Forum at the West Rifle Colorado Mountain College campus. Forum officials reported that 10 drilling rigs are operating in Garfield County, with 973 drilling permits approved by the state as of Dec. 2.

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