Glenwood residents rally to back oil, gas rules

GLENWOOD SPRINGS — Chanting in support of clean air and water, residents living in Colorado’s natural gas development hot spot rallied Thursday behind more restrictive rules on drilling.

Members of the Grand Valley Citizens Alliance showed up at a Glenwood Springs legislative update at which Colorado House Speaker Terrance Carroll, D-Denver, and state Rep. Kathleen Curry, D-Gunnison, also spoke in favor of a bill increasing vehicle registration fees to pay for highway needs.

Members of the Grand Valley Citizens Alliance gathered ahead of Thursday’s meeting to thank Curry and Garfield County Commissioner Tresi Houpt for their support of the new drilling rules. Houpt also sits on the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, which approved the rules in December.

Those rules are scheduled to begin undergoing legislative review next week.

“I don’t expect that this one is going to go real smoothly,” Curry said.

Curry has been a longtime supporter of reforming oversight of oil and gas development. The new rules were implemented at the direction of bills passed in 2007. That legislation requires oil and gas development to be better balanced against protection of public health, wildlife and the environment.

In an interview, Houpt said it would help during the legislative review if newer lawmakers heard from people in places of heavy oil and gas development, such as Garfield County, as a reminder of the reason for the rules. The industry considers the rules overly costly and burdensome.

Duke Cox, a spokesman for the citizens alliance, said testimony from people living in drilling country was crucial in getting the 2007 legislation passed.

“Those were very moving stories and they really had an impact on the legislation,” he said.

Curry is the House sponsor of a bill that was introduced by state Sen. Jim Isgar, D-Hesperus, seeking to clarify that landowner consent must be obtained before the state imposes wildlife protections related to drilling on their property under the new rules. Isgar said Thursday he expects to pull the bill because of lack of support, and because of an opinion from legislative legal advisors this week that may result in his concerns being addressed.

That opinion holds that the new rules illegally require energy companies to consult with the Colorado Division of Wildlife regarding drilling-related mitigations. Legal advisors say it’s up to the DOW and oil and gas regulators to consult with each other instead.

About 200 people attended Thursday’s meeting, and some questioned raising vehicle registration fees. Carroll and Curry defended the measure as the best immediate way to find funds to fix ailing roads and bridges.

“I stand by that decision. I think it was the best decision,” Carroll said.


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