Colorado's Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) on Monday established new rules proposed by a statewide task force last year that are designed to give local governments more of a role in siting large oil/gas facilities near communities and to "bridge the regulatory roles" between state and local officials.
The regulations address two recommendations from Gov. John Hickenlooper's 2014-2015 oil/gas task force, but the Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA) expressed disappointment in COGCC's action, saying it goes beyond what the task force had in mind. COGCC rejected a COGA-crafted compromise approach, COGA said.
Nevertheless, the nine-member state regulatory agency said the two new rules will:
Provide early notice to local government and the opportunity for them to work with oil/gas operators on the location of large facilities;
Require additional mitigation measures and best management practices from operators at large facility sites; and
Require operators to share information with municipalities about their future oil/gas development plans.
COGCC's action is the culmination of nine months of task force meetings, four days of COGCC hearings, and two citizen work group meetings with state and local government and citizen group representatives, all focused on task force recommendations Nos. 17 and 20 (see Shale Daily, Jan. 22). Seven other recommendations are still being dealt with by the state legislature, other agencies or COGCC on a non-rulemaking basis.
COGA CEO Dan Haley said "certain portions of the COGCC rule remain problematic, unsupported by reasonable or technical basis, and unclear as to the intent and purpose." Haley emphasized that an alternative jointly proposed by COGA and the Colorado Petroleum Association (CPA) is still a "reasonable solution" to what he called the many concerns and problems in the draft state agency rule.
"However, despite our disappointment that these rules exceed the task force recommendations, we are committed to working with our operators, our communities, and the state to successfully and effectively implement these rules," Haley said.
Haley cited five areas of major concern to COGA, including the definition of a "large urban mitigation area facility," lack of recognition of existing surface use agreements, registering with counties, longer review periods of 90 and 120 days, and 45-day pre-application notices to local governments on large urban projects.
COGCC said that it held 11 statewide outreach meetings, including 39 local governments and several citizens groups, before it drafted the new rules. Various task force and local government representatives praised the commission's work, adding that it should provide opportunities for oil/gas operators and local governments to negotiate siting issues.