Third oil, gas rule-making meeting yields more complaints of finer points
The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission will again take up the rule-making in Denver on Jan. 25 and potentially meet through Jan 27. For updates on the meeting schedule, go to the task force rule-making tab at cogcc.state.co.us.
DENVER — Three days of public hearings may result in a changed proposal before the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission come January.
The commission has been considering new rules recommended by the Governor’s Oil and Gas Task Force, which asked the commission to require oil and gas operators to consult local governments when siting large-scale facilities in increasingly urban areas and to disclose a five-year drilling plan.
So far, all involved in the rulemaking have gotten hung up on the details. The two proposals likely will be decided in January. Commission director Matt Lepore said that based on comments received, his staff would return in January with another version of the proposed rules, on which all involved could respond with a five-page report.
Attorneys, local government officials and residents argued Monday the fine details of the rules they said either went beyond the task force proposals or didn’t go far enough to satisfy public concern of an industrial process in their backyards. Those interested already have attended two public hearings on the proposals last month.
“We are wrestling with what I’m beginning to refer to as Rubik’s cube with multiple areas of tension,” said commission member Mike King, who also is director of the state’s Department of Natural Resources.
Residents continued their pleas for the commission to keep large-scale oil and gas drilling away from residential areas, but the concerns didn’t exactly hit the target on the discussion at hand.
Residents present Monday, however, want the rules to be applied with a broader brush to all areas with residential housing.
Carl Erickson, a representative of Weld Air and Water, said residents should not have to work so hard with companies to find an alternate site to a bad location, a longstanding concern of many Greeley residents.
“It needs to be upfront,” Erickson said. “It should not fall on community groups to always exercise the pressure cooker techniques that force operators to choose alternative sites.”
Oil and gas industry officials discussed language around measures they would have to undertake to mitigate impacts of their drilling operations, as well as concerns about having local governments outside limits of where a well is located having a say in the siting process. While Lepore announced early Monday he had pulled a part of the rules to impose drilling time limits, industry officials spoke out in force against them anyway, stating they would actually make the process of “getting in and getting out” much longer, and less safe. That part of the rule was suggested by his staff, not the task force, based on meetings he held with local governments throughout the state.
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