King gains support for officials’ ouster over oil, gas rules

Twenty-one fellow Republican state lawmakers joined state Rep. Steve King in calling for Gov. Bill Ritter to replace two men involved in rewriting Colorado’s oil and gas rules.

The Grand Junction Republican sent a letter this week formally urging Ritter to replace Harris Sherman, the executive director of the state Department of Natural Resources, and Dave Neslin, acting director of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, which Sherman chairs.

The Republicans say concern over the commission’s new rules is contributing to drastic reductions in drilling activity in the state.

“It is clear that unless we change course, more energy workers will lose their jobs. That’s why we hope you will take the first step toward making that change by replacing Harris Sherman and Dave Neslin with people who are willing to strike a common-sense balance between conservation and energy development,” King wrote to Ritter.

King also has made the same demand in interviews, prompting Ritter’s office Monday to release a statement voicing the governor’s full support for Sherman and Neslin. The administration says energy companies are cutting back operations because of low natural gas prices and the nation’s credit crunch, and not because of concern over the rules, set to take effect this spring.

Rep. Laura Bradford of Collbran signed King’s letter, as did Western Slope legislators Randy Baumgardner of Hot Sulphur Springs and Scott Tipton of Cortez.


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