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Colorado Oil/Gas Board to Decide on Two Local Rules

Decisions on proposals to turn two of the governor's local control task force recommendations into statewide rules are scheduled to be made Monday when the Colorado Oil/Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) reconvenes hearings that began last fall on the proposed rules.

The day-long session is set for the University of Colorado, Denver, and will be webcast at the COGCC website (http://cogcc.state.co.us/#/home).

Last November, oil/gas industry representatives urged COGCC not to go beyond the recommendations of a statewide governor's task force on ways COGCC can implement a measure of greater local control over industry activities in cities and counties (see Shale Daily, Nov. 17, 2015).

Monday's hearing is expected to include additional testimony from stakeholders as well as a discussion, deliberation and ultimately a decision on the proposed rules, a COGCC spokesperson said. The regulatory panel already has held three full days of hearings (Nov. 16-17 and Dec. 7, 2015) and three stakeholder meetings in October.

COGCC characterized the rules as doing three primary things embodied in two of the local issues task force recommendations (see Shale DailyFeb. 25, 2015):

  • Early notice by operators to local governments so local officials can work with operators on large oil/gas facilities adjacent to communities;
  • Require added mitigation measures and "best management practices" at these large facility locations; and
  • Further require operators to share more information with municipalities about their future oil/gas development plans.

Last fall, Dan Haley, CEO of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA), argued that the current draft rules (No. 17 and No. 20) go too far regarding regulating large drilling projects and requiring operators to share advanced, long-term drilling plans with local officials.

COGCC has been mandated to hammer out new rules implementing the first two of nine recommendations made early last year by Gov. John Hickenlooper's statewide local control task force. The nine proposals moving forward were each approved by two-thirds of the 21-member task force that considered another 30 recommendations for which a majority of support could not be achieved.

Five of the nine recommendations put forward require action by the COGCC. The other four will be dealt with by the legislature or other state agencies.

"The upcoming rulemaking is the latest activity in a years-long effort at COGCC to strengthen its oversight of oil/gas development in Colorado," said the COGCC spokesperson, pointing out that actions have been taken dating back to 2011 when the commission lengthened the minimum distance between drilling sites and residences. To get the expanded job done, the commission has also added to its oversight staff.

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