Legislators: Gas board can still alter rules

State lawmakers ruled out a plan Tuesday from a southeastern Colorado representative to bar the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission from updating any wildlife-related regulations that could harm energy producers’ profits.

Rep. Wes McKinley, D-Walsh, pitched his proposal, House Bill 1167, as a way to keep energy producers from being hurt by shifting migratory paths of elk and other animals.

McKinley said producers operating under the rules recently approved by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission will be forced to endure a significant amount of uncertainty if the panel is allowed to amend what “sensitive wildlife habitat” is, as allowed under the rules.

“It means we went to a lot of trouble to make a lot of rules … and now you can alter, modify, amend or enlarge (the rules),” McKinley said.

Warren MacDonald, a rancher from Las Animas County, joined McKinley, citing the thousands of acres of his land under production that could be affected if animals take residence near well pads.

“We’re not going to be able to put a well where there’s a bald eagle’s nest next to it,” MacDonald said.

The House Agriculture, Livestock and Natural Resources Committee killed the bill on a 7-6 vote.

It marked the second time this year the Legislature killed a bill aimed at amending, delaying or overturning the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission’s energy regulations.

A Senate panel voted two weeks ago to sideline legislation from Sen. Greg Brophy, R-Wray, and Rep. Laura Bradford, R-Coll-bran, to delay the implementation of the rules. The bill cited hardships that the rules would impose on the energy industry.

A third pending bill, from Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Yuma, would remove the Division of Wildlife from the permitting process for new oil and gas wells.


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