The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) on Wednesday reconsidered plans to hold a virtual meeting to discuss changes to Senate Bill (SB) 19-181, opting now to temporarily pause the rulemaking schedule on coronavirus concerns.

The move to halt the rulemaking comes as stricter rules have been put in place around the nation in an effort to stop the spread of Covid-19. The efforts have created an inability to conduct face-to-face meetings, which are a critical component to successful rulemaking, according to the COGCC.

“We evaluated whether we needed to push back the rulemaking proceedings at this point, to ensure that all parties have actual and, importantly, perceived due process,” said COGCC Director Jeff Robbins at a hearing held remotely on Wednesday.

“Our recommendation is to pause rulemaking because we do not want to undertake such an important piece of business -- rulemaking -- ‘virtually.’ This decision comes after gathering feedback from our stakeholders, who are all in agreement that rulemakings should necessitate actual face-to-face meetings, not virtual meetings.”

Up for consideration is a series of changes to SB 19-181 that would evaluate and address potential cumulative impacts, adopt alternative location analysis processes, expand public participation in COGCC proceedings and reform the permit process, according to the commission.

The rules also would improve protections for public health, safety, welfare and the environment, and address recordkeeping of oil and gas operations as well as reordering and cleaning up COGCC rules and definitions.

The commission also removed from the calendar the deadlines for requests for party status and initial pre-hearing conference. The COGCC plans to evaluate when to repost initial deadlines for filing for party status and the initial stakeholder meeting in mid-April.

“In the interim, we invite stakeholders to continue to provide us written input on the series rules and note that any such input will be part of the administrative record,” the commission said.

COGCC also postponed the Wellbore Integrity Rulemaking that was scheduled in June. The new date would not change the effective date of the rules, which is Sept. 15.

“COGCC is committed to a strong, robust, inclusive rulemaking process with all our stakeholders. We will continue to keep stakeholders updated as we navigate our current challenges by email, social media and our website,” Robbins said.