Oil panel chief:
 Act quickly on task force ideas

RIFLE — The head of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission is hoping the agency will approve rules implementing state task force recommendations this year.

Matt Lepore told the Northwest Colorado Oil and Gas Forum he thinks there’s probably pressure for the agency to act before the 2016 legislative session.

“I want these rules to get adopted and I want some time to see how they work. I think I’d like to by 2016 be saying to the (state) Legislature, ‘We’re on the right trajectory.’”

A state oil and gas task force appointed by Gov. John Hickenlooper recently made nine recommendations aimed at addressing issues surrounding oil and gas development, including impacts on residential areas.

Some of the recommendations, such as increasing staffing on the commission, require legislative action. Some involve the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, but many would require changes in COGCC rules.

A key one would provide for local governments to collaborate with companies in decisions on locating large oil and gas facilities in urban locations, with mediation occurring when needed, but the ultimate decision being the commission’s if an agreement isn’t reached. Other recommendations address matters such as studying how to reduce truck traffic, and creating an oil and gas information clearinghouse.

A recommendation required approval by at least two-thirds of the task force’s 21 members to be forwarded to the governor. However, many more were included in a minority report, including a number that were approved by a simple majority.

Asked by Leslie Robinson of the Grand Valley Citizens Alliance whether the commission would consider any recommendations in the minority report, Lepore said it’s possible that legislators might seek to pursue some of them. But he said his agency’s focus would be on the recommendations the task force agreed on.

However, he later indicated its rulemaking on task force measures could address some issues the group considered but weren’t among its nine recommendations, such as noise impacts. He said there also was some overlap between some minority-report measures and the approved recommendation on large facility siting, which could allow for consideration of them by the commission where they are consistent with that recommendation.

Robinson said she’s hoping the agency will be willing to “supersize” its task force rulemaking by considering some minority report ideas due to the unlikelihood of them being considered and approved by the Legislature, which has a Democrat-controlled House and Republican-controlled Senate.

She’s particularly interested in a measure that received an 11-10 task force vote and called for requiring neighboring landowners to be notified of proposed oil and gas facilities and be given the right to request a hearing on such proposals before the commission.


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