Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper on Monday named a 19-member statewide task force to examine land use and state and local rules in permitting oil and natural gas facilities. This culminates a compromise approach to a simmering state political issue that Hickenlooper's office patched together last month (see Shale Daily, Aug. 5).
The oil and gas industry quickly hailed the action as getting a dialogue started regarding local involvement in what has historically been a state jurisdictional arena.
The task force will begin meeting immediately, according to Hickenlooper's office. Recommendations from the panel are expected by March, with the task force having the authority to issue recommendations, including majority and minority opinions, based on two-thirds votes.
In piecing together the political compromise to avoid a statewide ballot measure fight this fall, Hickenlooper named as co-chairs La Plata County Commissioner Gwen Lachelt and XTO Energy Inc. President Randy Cleveland. Also named to the panel were former state elected officials, farmer union and rancher/activists, former mayors of Broomfield and Boulder, CO, several attorneys, a retired state supreme court justice, Weld County clerk, environmentalists, oil/gas executives from Anadarko Petroleum Corp. and Bill Barrett Corp., an oil/gas industry union executive, and an officer in the Colorado home builders' organization.
Hickenlooper said that the task force is expected to craft recommendations to "help minimize" land use conflicts that can occur when siting oil/gas facilities near homes, schools, businesses and recreational areas. In deciding on the 19 members, he said that nearly 300 people from various organizations, industries and background were considered.
"We look forward to working with the governor’s task force and participating in the dialogue about oil and gas development in Colorado," said Tisha Schuller, head of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association. The industry group hopes the task force "provides information and insight" into a robust regulatory system with a strong role for local governments, she said.
"After a divisive summer, I am hopeful this panel of diverse voices and interests will find, and promote, workable solutions that allow this industry that is so critical to the health and vitality of our state to continue to responsibly develop our natural resources.”