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Colorado: Panel to coordinate state, local regs on drilling

SkyTruth created this GoogleEarth image of Colorado oil and gas wells in 2008, when there were about 35,000 active wells in the state.

Noise abatement, air quality and dust control are discussion items for new task force

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY —Against the backdrop of a couple of pending court cases, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper this week said he’s appointing a task force to clarify and coordinate regulatory jurisdiction between the state and local governments over oil and gas operations.

The panel is expected to report its conclusions by April 18. The report could lead to a proposal for legislation or a rule-making. Local governments, the industry, the legislature and the conservation community will all be represented.

In court, the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, as well as the Colorado Oil and Gas Commission, have challenged to ability of local governments and citizens to request hearings and exert local control over drilling operations, claiming that statewide rules are the best way to create a level playing field and the regulatory consistency that the industry wants.

This image created by SkyTruth shows abandoned oil and gas wells in Colorado as of April 2008.

In reality, circumstances can differ on the ground from community to community, said Pete Maysmith, director of Colorado Conservation Voters, which is named as one of the groups to be represented on the panel.

Maysmith said he’s glad that the environmental community will be represented on the task force.

“As oil and gas drilling moves into heavily populated areas, we need to be able to protect the air, land water and communities,” Maysmith said. “Local communities need to have a say. They’re the ones being directly impacted.”

“This is an important step to better define state and local jurisdiction regulatory structures as Colorado’s oil and gas industry continues to grow,” Gov. Hickenlooper said in a press release. “We want to protect public health, the environment and wildlife and to avoid duplication and conflict between different regulations of oil and gas activities. We expect these efforts to also help foster a climate that encourages responsible development and enhances existing cooperation and coordination between state and local government.”

The Task Force will address:

  • Setbacks of oil and gas facilities or roads necessary for oil and gas operations from any building, public road, above-ground utility line, railroad, or water body, or other restrictions on the location of an oil or gas well and its related production facilities.
  • Floodplain restrictions.
  • Protection of wildlife and livestock.
  • Noise abatement.
  • Operational methods employed by oil and gas activities.
  • Air quality and dust management.
  • Traffic management and impacts.
  • Fees, financial assurance and inspection.

“In establishing this task force, we have worked with a variety of stakeholders, including local government, industry, the environmental community, Speaker McNulty, President Shaffer and Majority Leader Morse,” Hickenlooper said.

The Task Force will be chaired by Mike King, executive director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources.

The task force members will include: the Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, or his or her designee; two members of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission as determined by said Commission; the President of the Board of Directors of Colorado Counties Inc., or his or her designee who must also be a member of said organization; the President of the Board of Directors of the Colorado Municipal League, or his or her designee who must also be a member of said organization; the Chief Executive of the Colorado Petroleum Association, or his or her designee; the Chief Executive Officer of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, or his or her designee; the Executive Director of Colorado Conservation Voters, or his or her designee; one member appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives; one member appointed by the President of the Senate; and the Colorado Attorney General or the Attorney General’s designee.

Here’s the order:

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One Response

  1. Challenging the abilities of the locals! Well, isn’t that something that should be done, having local input? After all, it is their community that can/will be affected. Besides, it will be more difficult as well as costly for the O&G people to provide funds for the corrupt bribe takers, wouldn’t you say?

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