Former energy worker lends support to rules

Former Grand Junction resident Jim Ives has worked in Alaska’s oil fields and on the former Colony oil shale project near Parachute.

In 1997-98 he served as executive director of the Rocky Mountain Oil & Gas Association, the predecessor of the Colorado Petroleum Association.

Today, he’s lending what might seem to be an unlikely voice on behalf of Colorado’s new oil and gas rules, which have been largely criticized by the industry as being costly and burdensome.

“I think basically the regulations represent a balance that is both socially responsible as well as commercially viable,” Ives said in an interview.

He conceded the rules — scheduled to take effect this spring if approved by the state Legislature — do add some expense. But he called them “a necessary cost of doing business.”

The Centennial resident, 61, is retired and active with Trout Unlimited. Trout Unlimited supports the new rules, which aim partly to protect fish and other wildlife habitat. Ives cites his industry background in expressing his belief that oil and gas companies can comply with what he considers to be flexible, fair and balanced rules.

“I know what can be done by oil and gas companies because I did it,” Ives said.

Ives lived in Grand Junction from 1953-71. He attended Mesa State College before going to the University of Colorado, and worked early in his career as an air pollution control officer for Mesa County.

He spent most of his career in environmental management in the energy industry. Ives said he dealt with strict environmental rules in Alaska, where companies often operated in wetlands and dealt with issues such as caribou calving seasons.

Ives said when he held the industry trade association job in Colorado, he advised some members that the industry would have to make improvements because of growing opposition from landowners about irresponsible operations.

“I think the new regulations, if anything, kind of level the playing field for the responsible operators and those that aren’t so inclined,” Ives said.

Stan Dempsey, president of the Colorado Petroleum Association, said existing Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission rules already ensure that a level playing field exists.

Dempsey worked with Ives during Dempsey’s days with the Colorado Association of Commerce & Industry.

“Jim was a valued colleague, and I enjoyed working with him,” Dempsey said.

But he said a lot has changed in terms of stricter oil and gas regulations since Ives served as an industry advocate.

A law has been put in place to codify the rights of surface owners, Dempsey said. State rules adopted in recent years also address air and water quality and noise concerns.

Dempsey said the issue with the latest round of rules is how effectively they will work, and whether they adequately address questions such as application to federal lands, and the rights of property owners versus lease holders and mineral estate owners.


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