Chamber reps to speak up on new gas rules

The Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce plans to load up a bus with a few other like-minded people and head to the Capitol this week to make a statement about the oil and gas rules on the Legislature’s table.

On Thursday the state House will have its first reading of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission’s newly drafted rules, which govern the extraction of oil and gas in the state. Representatives of the Grand Junction and Rifle chambers of commerce, the Associated Builders and Contractors, and a few other groups hope to give legislators their two-cents worth, said Diane Schwenke, CEO and president of the Grand Junction chamber.

The new rules have been hailed by environmentalists as safeguards to preserve the state’s wildlife and other natural wonders. The rules have been criticized by advocates of the energy industry as being too stringent and a contributing factor to the decline of the energy industry in Colorado.

Schwenke said the contingent headed to Denver hopes to get some one-on-one time with local legislators and “to express some of our concerns,” she said. “To do some lobbying of our own.”

The chamber is not opposed to all of the rules, she said.

“People are painting us as saying all the rules are bad, and they are not,” Schwenke said.

“There are a lot of good things in the rules. There are also a lot of things that need to be delayed or modified.”

New Mexico was going through a similar process as Colorado, but has delayed the implementation of its new rule book for the oil and gas industry until the economy rebounds.

Schwenke said the Colorado Legislature needs to seriously consider taking the same action.

“At this point the rules are the only thing the state can control,” she said.


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