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Colorado Local Issues Task Force Nears Finish Line

The 21-member Colorado governor's task force examining legislative proposals for local control of oil/natural gas issues is huffing and puffing as it nears the finish line. Final recommendations are expected Friday.

The panel was to meet one last time, all day Tuesday at the Denver Convention Center. More than 30 recommendations were to be discussed, but not voted upon, and amendments to any of the pending recommendations can only be made on the spot if the task force member who authored the measure approves the changes.

According to an agenda posted on the task force website, five groups of recommendations were to be discussed: land use-related recommendations that have been revised; land-use recommendations that have been left unchanged; Oil and Gas Conservation Commission staffing and health-related recommendations; surface owner/disclosure proposals; and everything else, which has been labeled "nuisance" (dust, noise, traffic).

Based on the agenda, it is unclear when the "next steps for voting and the final report" are contemplated, but it looks like that will be Friday at the final session for submittal of recommendations to Gov. John Hickenlooper, who created the panel seven months earlier.

Officials at the Colorado Department of Natural Resources outlined the rules for Tuesday's session, which is expected to consume the whole day.

In late January the prospects for solutions looked dim, and individual members appeared to be more entrenched in their positions than at any time since the group formed and first met last September (see Shale Daily, Jan. 23).

The 21-member task force was appointed last summer by Hickenlooper (see Shale Daily, Sept. 9, 2014) as a way to avoid dueling statewide ballot initiatives in November. Based on more than a dozen meetings over the past months, the panel of local government, industry, community, business and environmental representatives has been characterized as being far from reaching any majority agreement on anything.

Any recommendations put forward on Friday would have to be debated in the state General Assembly in which some of the Republican majority members in the Senate have advanced a pro-hydraulic fracturing measure. That Senate bill would penalize local governments limiting drilling activities, particularly hydraulic fracturing.

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