Neslin going from oil, gas regulator to lawyer representing industry
David Neslin, who shepherded through numerous rule changes as director of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, is leaving his job to become a partner at a law firm and represent energy-industry clients.
Neslin on March 1 will join Davis Graham & Stubbs LLP in Denver, where he will deal with oil and gas and public-lands matters.
Neslin became the state commission’s acting director in 2007, and was named director in 2009. He oversaw the controversial 2008 overhaul of the state’s oil and gas rules, aimed at better balancing development with protection of the environment and public health. Critics blamed those rules for contributing to a subsequent decline in drilling in the state, but Neslin said the root cause was falling natural gas prices and noted Colorado remained among the most active states for oil and gas development in the Rocky Mountain region.
In December, he helped negotiate a compromise rule requiring public disclosure of the contents of hydraulic fracturing fluids, while providing for trade-secret exemptions. It’s considered the most far-reaching fracturing disclosure requirement of any state.
In an interview, Neslin said he will leave the job sometime later this month. He said he looks forward to continuing to work toward collaborative solutions on issues such as energy in his new position.
“I think this is a great opportunity. Davis Graham & Stubbs is an outstanding law firm with a long tradition of doing quality work on natural resources, public lands and energy issues, and so it’s a real honor to be able to join them,” Neslin said. “And I think I’m ready for a change and ready to start a new chapter in my career.”
Chris Richardson, the managing partner of Davis Graham & Stubbs, said in announcing Neslin’s hiring, “Dave’s expertise and history with the COGCC will be a tremendous asset to our energy clients, who are committed to developing their projects in a responsible manner.”
Thom Kerr, who oversees permitting for the commission, will serve as acting director after Neslin’s departure. State Department of Natural Resources spokesman Todd Hartman said he didn’t have information yet on the process for replacing Neslin.
In a news release, Neslin’s boss, Mike King, executive director of the DNR, said Neslin “deftly managed the COGCC through the most challenging period in agency history. ...”
Gov. John Hickenlooper issued a statement saying Neslin “earnestly, ably and consistently brought varied interests together to do what’s best for the environment, for business and for Colorado.”