Colorado to Expand Local Government’s’ Role in Oil and Gas Production

Silhouette of offshore jack up rig at sea during sunset

Colorado oil and gas regulators are moving forward with plans to give local governments an expanded role in developing drilling regulations, in response to a governor-appointed oil and gas task force’s recommendations from earlier this year.

According to the Denver Post, local lawmakers are expected to take a larger role in the planning and siting of large-scale oil and gas facilities across the state.

On Tuesday, July 7, about 30 industry representatives met with local government leaders, during which it was stressed that both parties would take a transparent, flexible approach, relying on existing rules whenever possible. Five more outreach meetings have been planned to gauge the opinions of local officials and members of the public.

“We need to be hearing all sides before we put pen to paper,” state Department of Natural Resources director Mike King said at the meeting.

In February, a task force created by Gov. John Hickenlooper made nine recommendations to the state’s oil and gas industry in an effort to resolve land use conflicts between oil and gas drillers and communities. While a good number of these recommendations can be enacted through changes to budget allocations and staffing, involving local governments will require the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) to pass new regulations.

If these meetings are successful, oil and gas drilling companies could soon be required to consult with local governments before moving forward with new drilling projects. However, some industry representatives expressed concerns over how long the entire negotiations process will take.

“It takes as long as it takes,” COGCC executive director Matt Lepore said. “It’s your call when to pull the plug.”

With enough oil reserves on hand to meet at least another 53.3 years of production worldwide, involving local government officials in the drilling process now will ensure their continued involvement in Colorado’s oil and gas industry for many years to come.

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