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Colorado Lawmakers Unable to Agree on Local Control

Colorado state lawmakers have failed to reach a bipartisan approach to giving local communities more control over issues traditionally reserved for the state, such as oil/natural gas oversight.

A draft of a proposal obtained by the Denver Post reportedly was considering more local voice in regulating noise, imposing setbacks and monitoring oil/gas development. While there was a lot of discussion, the proposal never obtained any real traction or bipartisan support, according to local news media reports and the Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA).

"COGA was not involved in the negotiation of a bill, but we encouraged stakeholders to have a discussion," COGA spokesman Doug Flanders told NGI. "At the end of the day, a bill such as this needed to be bipartisan, with broad industry and stakeholder support."

For most of this year, Colorado's focus has shifted to potential ballot measures this fall to further regulate energy, and the state legislature was no exception. There already are several local oil/gas drilling ballot measures on the books and a new, first-of-its-kind set of methane emissions rules (see Daily GPIMarch 12).

State Reps. Su Ryden and Dickey Lee Hullinghorst made a run at "addressing citizens' concerns about the impacts of oil/gas development on their lives and their communities." To address the concerns, the two lawmakers convened meetings of various stakeholders, including elected officials, conservation community advocates, oil/gas industry representatives and members of Gov. John Hickenlooper's administration.

"Our conversations have been productive, but we haven't yet struck an accord with all of the stakeholders, and we've run out of time in this session to pass consensus legislation," the two lawmakers said in a joint statement.

Without voicing support or criticism, Flanders said proposed legislation or any of the would-be statewide ballot measures addressing local control and changing how oil and gas is regulated will have "dramatic impacts on every sector of the [state's] economy."

Flanders said this is why business groups throughout the state are "coming together" to oppose the proposed ballot measures (see Shale DailyMarch 27).

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