The new nine-member Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) on Tuesday listened to mixed public testimony on its future oversight and voted unanimously to continue issuing drilling permits while it implements state Senate Bill (SB) 181.
The commission issued initial guidance on implementing the new rules earlier this month. COGCC Executive Director Jeff Robbins said at the time the final criteria provide discretion that will remain in effect until all the rulemakings are completed. Included is a mandate to change COGCC’s mission from “fostering” to “regulating" oil and gas activity.
Department of Natural Resources Executive Director Dan Gibbs told the COGCC that the legislature did not intend for a drilling permits moratorium while regulatory rules are carved out to support SB 181.
"Commissioners certainly have their work cut out for them over the next 13 months as they undergo several rulemakings to comply with SB 181," said Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA) CEO Dan Haley. Members intend to be active participants in the rulemaking process, he said.
Calls for a permitting moratorium during the implementation process of SB 181 are "absurd and completely unnecessary,” Haley said. He reiterated COGA's ongoing contention that Colorado's oil and gas sector is a safe and economically vital industry.
Late last Friday, Gov. Jared Polis announced seven selections for the COGCC to join two ex-officio voting members, Gibbs, and Jill Hunsaker Ryan, executive director of the state Department of Public Health and Environment.
Besides dealing with pending legal matters in executive session, the regulatory panel agreed permitting may continue in the area of SRC Energy Inc.'s comprehensive drilling plan (CDP) for Weld County, a pending item that the COGCC members reiterated was a procedural step and not an indication of the fate of the CDP.