Gas drilling rule changes should help landowners

Enough is enough, say landowners impacted by gas drilling.

After years of being trampled by gas drilling companies and largely ignored by the state’s gas regulating agency, landowners are calling for changes to the rules governing drillers.

These residents have every right to pursue remedies.

While some gas drilling companies make an effort to cooperate with the people whose land they are drilling on, it seems there is always a new player in the valley that must learn the lessons all over again.

Landowners have tried hard to reform the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, a seven-member board appointed by the governor, and the rules and regulations set by the commission’s staff.

Sympathetic legislators, including those representing Garfield County, carried bills aimed at shifting the majority rule on the commission away from the oil and gas industry, and at cleaning up the complex split estate situation, in which one person owns the surface and someone else, or their scattered heirs, own the mineral rights.

With a strong industry lobby at work, these reform efforts failed.

Now landowners from Garfield and other gas drilling counties are preparing a list of common-sense solutions to the environmental, social and safety impacts they face, and taking it straight to the Oil and Gas Commission.

They are calling for revised state rules and regulations governing water, noise, reclamation, roads and respect for private property.

The Oil and Gas Commission members and staff should listen to these proposals with open minds, with the goal of accommodating landowners.

Gas companies make a bundle of money on these wells. It won’t cost that much more to do things the right way.

As gas drilling spreads, it’s time for state regulators to make sure drilling goes light on the land, even if that way costs more.

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