Curry delays bill to modify oil/gas wildlife provisions

“Legitimate” concerns raised about a bill to modify a series of recently released oil and gas regulations moved state Rep. Kathleen Curry, D-Gunnison, to delay consideration of the proposal.

Curry said the arguments raised by representatives of the oil and gas industry along with other witnesses before the House Agriculture, Livestock and Natural Resources Committee called for more time to consider House Bill 1255.

“We’ve got a policy question that we need to address,” Curry said at the Wednesday night hearing, citing “some really compelling input.”

The proposal, from Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Yuma, would have removed requirements from the rules that energy companies directly consult with the Colorado Division of Wildlife on how best to mitigate the negative effects of drilling on wildlife.

Ken Wonstolen, counsel for the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, argued that Gardner’s bill corrects a disconnect between the rules and what the 2007 legislation that started the regulatory overhaul called for.

Wonstolen said the rules require oil and gas operators to comply with the Division of Wildlife’s management plans. The 2007 legislation called for a two-way “consultation” between energy companies and the state.

Rep. Marsha Looper, R-Calhan, said Wonstolen and the other witnesses in support of House Bill 1255 made some legitimate points.

Looper said she wanted to make sure attorneys for the state could defend the rules.

Gardner’s bill is the third effort from Republican state lawmakers this year to delay, limit or kill the rules, approved by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission late last year.

The other two bills died in committee earlier this year.

The bill is expected to go before the House Agriculture, Livestock and Natural Resources Committee again next week.


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