The Colorado Oil and Gas Task Force to send nine recommendations to the governor’s office later this week
Last September, Gov. Hickenlooper created the task force 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.
Yesterday, the task force concluded its meetings and voted to send nine recommendations to Gov. Hickenlooper this Friday. All nine recommendations received two-thirds vote or more from the 21 person task force.
The recommendations include increasing the number of staff at the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC), which oversees the industry, sharing information about local governments’ comprehensive land plans energy companies’ five-year drilling plans, and creating a mediation process to reconcile disputes between local officials and energy executives over where oil and gas wells will be located, reports the Denver Business Journal.
There were mixed feelings about the task force’s final list of proposals with some saying they were disappointed, while others said the task force had done its job.
“I am disappointed,” said Gwen Lachelt, a La Plata County commissioner and task force co-chairwoman. “We really need to do something for the people who are affected by these issues, and we really didn’t do that” U.S. Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) also said that compromise was not reached, reports the Denver Post. “Unfortunately, the oil and gas industry proved they weren’t interested in a compromise or solving the problem,” he said.
Mike King, executive director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources said that the task force had fulfilled its mission. “Many of the recommendations are regulatory changes that we can make without waiting around for the legislature,” he said. “The task force addressed the issues the governor asked it to.” Dan Kelly, a Vice President for Noble Energy (ticker: NBL), was also pleased with the outcome. “I think this will address the issue,” he said. “Early engagement with local government, more transparency – these are going to make a big difference.”
The decisions came after five months of meetings and discussion between community leaders and business representatives. A full list of the task force’s membership can be read here.
The nine recommendations that will be forwarded to the governor are:
No. 17, calls for energy companies to consult with local governments when locating a new well in urban environments, and if the two sides couldn’t agree on the location then the issue would go to mediation — with both sides splitting the cost.
No. 20, calls for oil and gas companies to register with the municipalities where they operate and share their best, good-faith assessment of their five-year drilling plans with local governments, so that those locations could be compared with the local master plan.
No. 25, would enhance the existing system of local government liaisons at the state and local government designee’s at the local level to increase communication between the state and local government on oil and gas issues.
No. 27, would increase COGCC staff by 11 people to work on field inspections, enforcement and permitting.
No. 31B, would increase staff at the state health department dedicated to monitoring oil and gas air quality compliance, create a new health complaint and information line related to oil and gas, increasing the department’s budget to buy a mobile air quality monitoring station , and to do a health study.
No. 41, would create an oil and gas information clearinghouse in the Colorado Energy Office.
No. 37, would have Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) and the COGCC look at what can be done to reduce truck traffic related to oil and gas.
No. 49, to encourage the legislature to approve Senate Bill 15-100, a bill that gives legislative stamp of approval to all rules enacted by state agencies during the previous year.
Specifically, the legislature should approve the rules the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s new rules designed to cut pollution — including methane leaks — from oil and gas equipment.
No. 52B, would have the COGCC start a program to help oil and gas companies comply with the state’s rules governing their operations.
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