CORRECTION: The taskforce’s meetings this week decided which proposals will continue on to the next taskforce meeting. None of the proposals have been sent to the governor for consideration at this time.
Last September, Gov. John Hickenlooper created an oil and gas taskforce as part of a compromise to remove both pro- and anti-hydrocarbon development initiatives from the November ballot. The taskforce was created in order to give recommendations to the governor, but has no regulatory power of its own.
On Monday and Tuesday this week, the taskforce debated on which initiatives should be sent to the governor’s office for consideration. A two-thirds vote is necessary for the taskforce to send a proposal to the governor. The taskforce’s recommendations must make it to the governor’s office by February 27, and the group’s last meeting is on February 24.
During this week’s meetings, the oil and gas taskforce considered proposals that require drillers to seek local approvals before applying for state permits, with mediation if an operator and a local community can’t agree. Another proposal allows for local governments to use stricter regulations than the state as long as the regulations do not impede operations.
Other proposals include one that requires early notifications to local governments of plans for multi-well operations, integrating oil and gas development into local land-use plans, compensation to surface owners for damage, increased staffing at the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and increased oversight of air quality by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
“The cost of some of these recommendations could be very high,” said Stan Dempsey, president of the Colorado Petroleum Association. “I think they have to get that. They still have a lot of work to do.”
Other members of the taskforce said that the core issue of local drilling control still needs to be addressed, however, reports the Denver Post. “I have a concern we are still stepping around the major issue at the heart of the conflict,” said Jon Goldin-Dubois, president of the environmental group Western Resource Advocates and a taskforce member. Will Toor, a taskforce member and former mayor of Boulder said local government still “needs some additional teeth.”
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