On Oct. 9 and 10, the Colorado Oil & Gas task force, a group of 21 volunteer citizens representing oil and gas companies, environmental groups, and the farming, homebuilding and medical communities (along with attorneys and government officials) held its second public meeting, this time in Durango, Colo., with 19 of the 21 members present.
After introductions and a discussion about voting rules, the task force reviewed Colorado Supreme Court cases, district court cases and refreshed memory on proposed ballot initiatives concerning citizen-proposed rules for oil and gas operations, looking particularly at divisions between state and local regulatory turf. A breakdown of legal analysis followed about local authority having the right to regulate.
Three different attorneys, David Little, Don Sullivan and Tom Dugan had been asked to present the legal aspects and cases that had been brought with respect to the issue of regulating oil and gas activity in Colorado. Note was made that the Colorado Supreme Court had previously ruled on language banning all oil and gas activities. “Your role as a task force is to try to bring some kind of harmony to this area, because both the state agency and the local government agency have authority to regulate in this area according to the Colorado Supreme Court,” Little said, summing up his overview of applicable case law.
Using La Plata County and Southwestern Colorado as an example, the panel overviewed the current oil and gas development, permitting, and regulatory process. Representatives from Kinder Morgan, La Plata County, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and CDPHE provided input.
Later in the meeting others spoke and questions were accepted from the floor. Throughout, people spoke about the economic benefits to the state and local communities from the oil and gas industry.
“The discussion we need to have is not how fracking helps our economy, but how it hurts our health,” Joanie Trussel of Frack Free said, according to a Durango Herald story.
Kent Kuster, a representative with Colorado Public Health and Environment, addressed the commission during the afternoon and was questioned about known health impacts from drilling, the Herald said. Kuster said he was not aware of any health impacts driven by gas and oil drilling. “We simply don’t have enough data right now to make that kind of determination,” he said. “Other residents voiced support for economic contributions that gas and oil can bring and pointed out that Colorado already has some of the most stringent drilling regulations.”
“Before we plunge into a new round of new statutes, new regulations … we need to know what we are trying to fix,” Sen. Ellen Roberts said, according to the Herald.
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