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Oil/Gas Operators Support Colorado Gov.'s Local Control Solution

Seven oil and natural gas companies have thrown their support behind Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper's efforts to find a compromise on local control of drilling-related activities. The companies are Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA) members.

They are now supporting Hickenlooper's efforts to pass during a special session state legislation that would eliminate the need for a statewide ballot measure in November on the issue (see Shale Daily, June 10). A letter from the companies is viewed in the state as an indication that there is a broadening base of support for the compromise.

Compromise legislation at the end of May would have given local governments more regulatory power without allowing them to ban drilling activities, but state lawmakers were unable to reach agreement on a proposal in the regular legislative session before adjournment. Since then, attempts by Hickenlooper's office to garner support for a compromise bill that could be passed in special session have failed (see Daily GPI, May 29).

With recent changes in the proposed legislation that would add protection the home building industry wanted, a CEOs' group called Colorado Concern got onboard with Hickenlooper's proposal, including getting backing from the seven energy companies: original supporters Anadarko Petroleum Corp. and Noble Energy Inc., along with DCP Midstream, Great Western Oil & Gas Co., PDC Energy Inc., K.P. Kauffman Co., and WPX Energy Inc.

The companies said the compromise measure will give the local communities a continued "voice in energy regulation," while protecting property rights and supporting "responsible" energy development.

"Your [Gov. Hickenlooper's] proposal will also help avoid ballot measures that, if adopted, would become constitutional provisions that leave no room for negotiation or compromise, regardless of the circumstances," the companies' letter to the governor said.

Employing 4,200 workers and 7,200 independent contractors, and representing 60% of the state's oil output and 35% of the gas production, the seven companies collectively said their support is contingent on continued support from Boulder-based U.S. Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) who is funding efforts to get a statewide ballot initiative to voters.

The companies said the latest proposal gives communities an "appropriate voice" locally and provides an "acceptable balance" among the various competing interests. The property rights of surrounding landowners are protected, including mineral rights owners, farmers and home builders, they noted.

COGA, which originally opposed Hickenlooper's proposal, was not available for comment at press time.

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