The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission meeting on May 21.
The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission meeting on May 21.
Chase Woodruff

Reader: Oil and Gas Industry Should Steward the Land It Profits From

At the May 21 hearing of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, the first since the passage of Senate Bill 181, a landmark bill to reform state drilling laws, environmental activists urged the newly appointed board to increase health and safety protections.

But instead, state officials rejected calls to substantially slow fossil-fuel development and refused to impose a moratorium on permitting while it conducts rule-making required by the new bill.

Says JS: 

The oil and gas industry might just have to actually steward the land they profit from. It shouldn't be too much to ask them to protect the environment and public health and safety.

Adds Jason: 

Full end to this insanity. They have ruined Colorado.

Responds David: 

Good...a bunch of loonies backed by Soros.

And then there's this from Amy: 

The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation is doing the residents of the state a disservice by ignoring calls to pause permitting while rules are written to implement SB 19-181. SB 19-181 reforms the COGCC’s legislative declaration, and directs it to: “regulate the responsible, balanced development and production and utilization of the natural resources of oil and gas in the state of Colorado in a manner that protects public health, safety, and welfare, including protection of the environment and wildlife resources.” In adopting this legislation, the clear intent of the legislature was to protect Colorado’s residents from the extreme onslaught of oil and gas drilling that has worsened our air quality and imperiled our communities through fires and explosions. By continuing to issue permits before the legislation is fully implemented, the COGCC completely undermines the goals of the new law.  SB 19-181 also requires the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission to adopt rules regarding methane emissions and leak detection, and expands the permitting authority of local governments, both of which will affect the work done by the COGCC.

Continued extraction of fossil fuels is inconsistent with meeting the established pathways documented in the reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to avert the worst impacts of climate change. In addition to threatening the state’s air and water quality, continuing to issue permits before the full implementation of SB 19-181 “locks in” more carbon and methane emissions that will worsen the climate crisis. The COGCC should support the intentions of the governor, the legislature and the voters who elected them by writing rules that will protect public welfare and the environment, and implement a moratorium on permitting in the meantime.

“Numerous members of the public have asked this commission to immediately put in place a moratorium on any and all new permits until all of the rules have been adopted,” COGCC director Jeff Robbins said as the hearing began. “That, I believe, is contrary to the intent of Senate Bill 181.”

The new law directs the COGCC to conduct rule-making relating to at least twelve different areas of oil and gas policy, a process that is expected to take well over a year to complete.

Permit applications for more than 400 new drilling locations and over 6,000 individual wells are currently pending before the COGCC. At the hearing, industry representatives encouraged the commission to continue processing and approving those permits in the coming months.

And while Dan Gibbs, head of the Department of Natural Resources, which oversees the COGCC, said he appreciated the call of activists to address climate change, he also dismissed calls for a pause in permitting, stressing that SB 181 still directs the COGCC to “allow appropriate oil and gas development to occur.”

What do you think of the COGCC's refusal to institute a moratorium? Post a comment or email your thoughts to editorial@westword.com.

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