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Colorado Republicans Swipe at Ritter for Enacting Drilling Revisions

Opponents of Colorado's revamped natural gas and oil drilling rules on Wednesday took a swipe at Gov. Bill Ritter for officially signing the rules into law -- even though they would have taken effect without his signature.

When the state's drilling boom was under way, the Colorado General Assembly voted in 2007 to update the drilling rules, and the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) was tasked with the work, which it completed late last year (see Daily GPI, Dec. 10, 2008). The COGCC then sent the revisions package to the General Assembly, and despite protests by some energy industry opponents and a group of the General Assembly's minority Republicans, the package was approved and sent on to Ritter last month (see Daily GPI, March 26).

Some of the rules went into effect April 1; the remainder are to go into effect May 1.

The new guidelines, said Ritter, "will allow the industry to grow in a way that is sustainable and compatible with our entire economy. These rules were shaped with valuable input from people all across the state and unanimously adopted by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. They strike the right balance, a balance that recognizes the importance of a healthy industry and the importance of healthy communities, water supplies and wildlife.

"In 1999 Colorado issued 1,000 drilling permits. Last year the state issued more than 8,000," Ritter noted. "These new, modern rules recognize this increase in drilling activity as well as the technological changes that have occurred within the industry over the past decade. The rules also incorporate the forward-looking practices already being used by companies such as EnCana, Williams and Gunnison Energy."

Ritter said he was "committed to helping this industry thrive. Clean-burning natural gas is an important part of Colorado's New Energy Economy, and this industry will play a key role in Colorado's economic recovery and our economic future."

Two Colorado Republicans were not as charitable.

"Today Ritter took final action in his long campaign to destroy the oil and gas industry," said Assistant Senate GOP leader Greg Brophy of Wray. "If there was any other industry struggling like the oil and gas industry, the state government would reach out its hand and ask, 'how can we help?' Instead, this governor shoves them over the cliff."

State Sen. Scott Renfroe (R-Greeley) said Ritter "will travel all across the globe in his attempts to attract new jobs in this state, but he won't even walk across the street to help keep oil and gas jobs in Colorado."

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