Senate votes on Houpt next week |

Senate votes on Houpt next week

Phillip Yates
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” A vote on whether to confirm Garfield County Commissioner Tresi Houpt as a Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) member is expected to go before the state Senate next week.

Houpt and state Sen. Greg Brophy, R-Way, a member of the Senate Agriculture, Natural Resources and Energy Committee, both said they expect Houpt’s confirmation vote to happen on March 14.

The Senate vote is expected to be an up-or-down vote on each member, Brophy said.

Brophy said he asked that the Senates vote on Houpt, and five other commissioners’ nominations, be postponed so they could answer more specific questions from him. Republicans on the Senate Agriculture, Natural Resources and Energy Committee all had concerns that they did not have enough time to interview the commissioners during a hearing last week.

“We have six brand new members up for confirmation and only an hour and a half for all of the senators to ask any questions of them,” Brophy said.

The Democrat-controlled 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.

Brophy said he has some “serious reservations” about confirming Houpt, whose focus is to represent Colorado’s local governments as a COGCC commissioner. He said comments that Houpt has made ” which seemed to him to be anti-industry ” concerned him.

“I want to hear from her that she is going to be an advocate for and a voice for the local governments in my area,” Brophy said. “I am not getting good answers. Are we going to have a true representative of local government here?”

Houpt responded by saying she has been working on natural resource issues at the state and federal levels for several years and feels “as if I have a very good understanding of how important it is to look at the unique nature” of each of the oil and gas producing basins of the state.

“I am not concerned at all that I will have a difficult time recognizing when it is important to really look at the individual issues in the various basins,” Houpt said.

Houpt acknowledged that Brophy stressed concern about the current COGCC rule-making process, but said commission members ” which she has been serving as for almost eight months ” are not at a point where they can have a deliberation on the rules. Those draft rules are expected to be released later this month.

“But when we go through (those rules) we are all going to be looking at the entire state and not just particular basins,” Houpt said.

Also up for confirmation are: Richard D. Alward of Grand Junction as a member with experience in soil conservation; 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; Joshua B. Epel of Greenwood Village for experience in the oil and gas industry.

Contact Phillip Yates: 384-9117

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