Senate approves appointment of Glenwood Springs’ Houpt
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
DENVER ” The Colorado Senate on Monday approved the appointments of six people to the reorganized Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC).
Garfield County Commissioner Tresi Houpt, who has been serving as a COGCC commissioner since July, was one of them.
“I feel encouraged that we can now move forward as a confirmed commission,” said Houpt, after learning of her confirmation Monday. “I will continue to support [Gov. Bill Ritter’s] goal of creating fair and responsible permitting of energy development in Colorado.”
Last month, the Democratic-controlled Senate Agriculture, Natural Resources and Energy Committee approved ” but on a party line, 4-to-3 vote ” sending a motion to the full Senate that recommended senators approve the confirmation of Houpt and five other people as COGCC commissioners.
In July, Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter named Houpt as one of several new members to the COGCC. Lawmakers last year altered the commission’s role, expanded it to nine members from seven and added new requirements for member expertise and backgrounds.
On Monday, Republicans opposed half of Ritter’s appointees, speaking out most strongly against Houpt. Republican Sen. Josh Penry, of Fruita, called Houpt the “No. 1 enemy of the oil and gas industry on the West Slope.”
But Democratic Sen. Gail Schwartz, of Snowmass Village, says the commission needs a representative who will stand up for stabilizing communities where oil and gas is being developed. Garfield County is in the heart of western Colorado’s natural gas boom.
“I knew from the beginning it was contentious,” Houpt said of her confirmation. “It was unfortunate that people see me as anti-industry. My goal has always been when energy development moves forward, it does so in a manner that is consistent with the protection of the public health and environment.”
Richard Alward of Grand Junction also didn’t get any support from Republicans. He has worked in soil conservation and reclamation.
All 15 of the Senate’s Republicans voted against Houpt and Alward.
Houpt said with the confirmation the commission will move forward with the business it “has been doing for the past several months.”
Ritter appointed all six members to the commission in July after lawmakers agreed to expand and change its makeup, a main goal of his first year in office. Before, all but two of the panel’s seven members had to have a background in the industry. Now there are nine members but only three must have industry experience.
On the horizon for the new commissioners is the ongoing rulemaking process for the state’s oil and gas industry.
Also confirmed Monday were: Thomas L. Compton of Hesperus as a member engaged in agriculture; Mark D. Cutright of Aurora as a member with oil and gas experience; Michael P. Dowling of Denver because of his environmental and wildlife experience; and Joshua B. Epel of Greenwood Village for experience in the oil and gas industry.
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